Zak passed away last night. After 17 months he is finally at peace. The news came as bittersweet, it's weird when you know the inevitable, but you don't know how you will react or where your mind will take you once it happens. Since December 22, I have gone through every stage of grief probably multiple times, but you just never know how you will feel the day after. Today I feel sad, but I know he is no longer in pain and he can rest peacefully. I feel relief because I hope wherever he is, he is happy. I used to tell him that all I wanted for him was to be happy, nothing else mattered and I don't think he could have been happy these past 17 months and it broke my heart. He was too good of a man to have gone through this for so long.
(I'm writing this to share my thoughts and feelings but "we" sometimes works better because of how close Brad, Zak and I were)
Zak came into our lives in 2011. Our friendship blossomed fast, he was always willing to strike up a conversation and a bond that will last for eternity was quickly forged. Zak was chatty, I don't think there was ever a time where we had nothing to talk about. He was the friend that I would send pictures to of the food I ate or random things I would see while travelling. I loved to open his eyes and share with him my experiences, and he was always captivated. Zak was a good man, and our personalities clicked with ease. Because of this friendship we spent the following years almost inseparable and he became part of our extended family. We travelled together, ate meals together, grocery shopped together, played board games together, and the times when we were not together in person there was a constant stream of text messaging, especially about TV shows. He brought Lincoln into our life, and he stole our hearts too.
When he learned that I could use some help, he jumped at the idea, at first working remotely for me. Lucky for him (and for me), his degree allowed him to easily move to Canada to come work full time. I saw him all day, every day for so many years. My life was filled with laughs, witty banter, arguments about what to eat for lunch and gossiping about boys. I am a lucky man to have been blessed with someone so wonderful in my life, especially since I spent so much time with him. He truly was the best friend someone could ever ask for. He wore his badge of best friend proudly and he was the best friend to many. He was loyal and kind, I have learned from him and grown as a person because of the experiences we had together. He was simply, a beautiful person.
After moving to Toronto, his Michigan friends became our friends. These last 17 months have been so hard for everyone, and he would be so proud and happy, and probably a little jealous, how close we have become. We used to joke during our hospital visits that if he could hear us, he would be so frustrated that he couldn't join in on our conversations, trust me, he would probably have an opinion on most topics. We would almost feel guilty when our tears would turn to laughter. I say almost, because I know that he would want us to laugh and live and he never wanted anyone to worry about him. He would have been sick of my ugly crying but when someone means so much to you, you can't help but ugly cry when you are going through something like this. I thought we would be having a lifetime of experiences together, oh how things change so quick.
So now what? Now we can truly mourn Zak. He would want his friends and family to move forward and live their best lives. Zak did live his best life. I will never forget him, I can't, he is ingrained in who I am. I will miss him but I will also continue to laugh and love and live and make him proud.
Thank you for all the outpouring of love already this morning and these past 17 months. My family and friends have been nothing but supportive and loving and caring throughout the entire event. I am doing as good as to be expected. Zak always said that I dealt with death in a "strange" way. I mourn. I cry. And I don't forget. I don't suppress my emotions but I would rather laugh and live because I can't change what has happened. Zak's event should only reinforce that life is precious and you need to enjoy your life and the people you choose to have in your life.
Lastly, please learn the signs of addiction. Looking back over the last year before this happened, things become clear now that I know what to look for. Anyone can fall prey to addiction, it can happen to anyone in your life and they may need your support or help. Zak hid his addiction well and even though we can't change the past but with this experience I can influence the future.
(I will be continually adding photos to the gallery below. This is just a start.)