A letter to my best friend

Dear Brett,

You probably wouldn’t like the title of this too much for two reasons. First of all, you’re way more than “my best friend” but you know that. You’re a brother, a leader, and one of the most amazing people to ever walk into my life. The second reason being that I say the letter is for you but we both know that honestly, and perhaps a little selfishly, it’s actually for me.

I try to picture you all the time. Certain images come into my head. The nine-year-old Snelly who I played basketball in roller blades with, who’s curly hair looked absolutely ridiculous on his chubby head, laughing as I said goodbye before I broke my first bone. I picture the smelly Brett, freshly “axed” up right after a hockey game, and right before a laser dance at Tony Rose, where we would dance horribly (at least I would) and then you’d convince strange girls to talk us because while I was more conventionally attractive (this remains true), you had the bubbly personality that would win over anyone. Or I picture you the way you looked one of the last days I ever saw you. Snell’s delivery shirt, driving the cube van, pulled over to grab water while I had my first job interview for CIFM in Kamloops. It was funny, because we didn’t know it at the time, but I would end up getting that job, and both of our futures on that day, at that moment, looked so bright. You had your career set, a girl you loved, and I was on the verge of landing a huge morning show gig in a city we both knew I would love.

But things change. Suddenly, and harshly, everything can turn on a dime. I didn’t know that before. I mean, I knew it. Movies, books and people tell you that all the time but you don’t really know if that makes any sense. I didn’t know until the worst day of my life.

It’s not fair, because I try to remember every day we’ve had together, but time and life have made some of those memories fade. It seems like a cruel joke because nothing in the world will ever make the memory of that day fade.

I had my little brother from Big Brothers Big Sisters at the radio station. We were playing video games while all of my best friends were up north at your cottage. I knew something was wrong as soon as I saw Army’s name come across my phone screen. I walked into a different studio and heard his voice say “Roach, something terrible happened.” Those four words will never escape my head even though it wasn’t even the worst call I got that day. I talked to my parents, and the boys, and your sister, and was under the impression everything was going to be fine. So were they. I texted you, told you to call me when you were up and got your phone back and told you I loved you. A few hours later, I got the call.

I’ve been telling people that when your sister called me that day I expected her to hand you the phone and find out things were going to be okay. That’s not true. I knew right away something was up. That’s when I heard the words “Brett didn’t make it.” “Brett didn’t make it.” Simple as that and it was over.

I want to take a second here to apologize. I should have been stronger for your sister in that moment. I should have tried to comfort her, or say something meaningful. Instead, I broke down. Nothing in my 25 years of life had prepared me for something like this. I don’t think another 25 could have prepared me.

The next week went by in a blur. I expected it to be the hardest of my life, but truth be told it wasn’t. I was surrounded by my family, my friends, your family, and lots of people I loved. That made it easier. I felt you with me a lot that week. People were grieving and hurting, but something in me kept me calm enough to make people laugh, have some fun, and try to make light of the horrific situation we found ourselves in. I wrote your eulogy on behalf of the boys, and truthfully I think it was a little therapeutic. I got to remember some of the times we spent together and look back and laugh about the ridiculous thing my best buddy and I did. It just broke me inside knowing I’d rather give this speech at a much more joyous occasion than this. I wish the rest of this process stayed like that, but as they say, life goes on.

I talk to your girlfriend and sister a lot. I wish I could help them but the one thing they want is you, and as much as I wish I could be, I’m just not you. Honestly, it’s the one thing I want too.

When I was younger, I went through a break up that I was particularly upset about. I remember thinking I had to put on my tough guy face and get through it like it didn’t bother me at all. You knew I was upset, came over, and asked me “who are we going to date now?” I laugh thinking about that because you were one person I could truly show my true colours too. I spent a lot of my life thinking that being a “tough guy” meant being the guy who would fight if it came down to it, the guy who wasn’t scared of anything, the guy who never showed emotion. Somewhere during one of my rougher years, and I can’t pin point when it was, you taught me this wasn’t the case. I looked up to you. I realized that a tough guy is a guy who’s not afraid to speak about what he’s feeling, or ask for help because he trusts that things get better. A tough guy didn’t worry about talking about these things because his friends loved him, and if they didn’t, they could kick rocks. I never ever got to thank you for that, but I truthfully would never be where I am today if you hadn’t taught me that lesson. I’d be lucky to be here at all.

I remember when I was in grade 4 or 5 my dad almost took a job in Detroit. I remember telling you about it on the hill at school, and you being openly upset about it. Years later, I would tell you that I’m moving away to Alberta, and again you were upset, but this time you supported me more than I could ever dream for. You were so proud to see me excel at a job I loved that you didn’t care if it broke your heart, you were going to push me to keep doing better. It kills me, because I took it for granted. You would face time me or text me a lot and sometimes I would cut those calls short, or ignore those text messages because life was busy and I’d get back to you later. I wouldn’t say I regret it, because you were my best friend, you understood, and that’s how things go. But, I will say that I would give up my body and bed to have one more of those conversations with you, give you one more hug, and tell you I love you one more time.

I’ve moved out to Kamloops now. You would love it out here man, truthfully. It’s so beautiful and there is so much to do. The new station is so wicked, and everyone is incredible. I wish they got the chance to meet you. I mentioned a lot of memories, and one thing I distinctly remember about each one is the infectious smile you wore on your face. It was impossible to have a bad time around you. I miss that. You’d be so proud of me Snelly, I know it. I’m going to miss you a ton every single day. But, at least once a day I’ll smile, if only for the reason that I know you wouldn’t have gone through a whole day without one. I love you brother, this won’t be the last time I write. Hey, until you hear from me again, toss on your blades and get into the back of the cube van will yah? You’re the packer.