How do you fit a life like Kirk's into a few paragraphs? Where are the words to describe how joyous a soul he was, what a pleasure he was to have around and how richer our lives are because of it. How do you measure the value of a dear friend, a son, a brother, a companion. It's simple, you don't. Instead you celebrate the person he was and honor him with happy memories, of which there are many. And if there's one thing I've learned over the past couple days it's that we were all moved by Kirk in different ways, some are personal, while many stories are as fun to tell as they are to hear. We, his family and friends aren't all as close to one another as we were to him. It's a shame, but that's life. But if there's one thing I know Kirk would want, it's that we all share these memories with one another. Don't wait until tomorrow, or next week, or even next year. Kirk would want us all, the people he knew and loved, to share these moments (and not just on facebook) but together, around the table, over drinks or around the campfire. Kirk's life was a celebration and he'd want us to keep that fire burning.
I've written many things over the years, but a Eulogy was not among them. When my grandfather passed away three months ago, I listening the eulogy with a heavy heart, and not just because it was a sad day, but because it was cold, lifeless and sounded like an obituary. Not this one. The essence of a Eulogy to me is as I said, a celebration of Kirk James McDonald, born on February 12, 1980 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a guy cherished, loved and respected by so many people. I've never known someone more humble, honest, selfless, loyal, earnest, sincere, happy. He was also quick witted, much wiser than he let on, the loudest voice in the crowd and the heart of the party. He was also dead set in his ways and stubborn as hell, especially when he thought he was right. Everybody loved him, everybody. It's funny, growing up here in Fredericton we all know the mentality around here, everybody's your best friend when you're in the room, but the same might not be so when you leave. Kirk wasn't like that, and as far back as I can remember, I've never heard anyone say anything bad about him, and in a town like this, that never happens. As a matter a fact, the only other person I've ever seen that happen with is Seth's sister, Claryssa.
Kirk had the patience of Job, an expression I've heard many times, but never truly understood until I actually read the book of Job (yesterday). Sasha, Cormier and I sat with Jim a couple days ago in his kitchen while he told us about Job, and how this book of the bible touched him and Kirk. For those of you who may not have known, Kirk was very spiritual, one of his tattoos was a reference to the book of Job.
Job's story isn't a happy one. It's the story of a man who had everything; wealth, friends, family. He was a good man who made it a point to never wrong another or speak out against God. He was happy, generous and thankful for all he had. Then God decided to test Job by taking it all away. Job eventually questioned his luck, only to be humbled and taken down a peg by God himself. Here are a couple verses that made me think of Kirk:
"Everyone who saw me or heard of me had good things to say about what I had done. When the poor cried out, I helped them. I gave help to orphans who had nowhere to turn and I helped widows find security. I have always acted justly and fairly. I was eyes for the blind and feet for the lame, I was like a father to the poor and took the side of strangers in trouble. When I gave advice people were silent and listened carefully to what I said. My words sank in like drops of rain and everyone welcomed them just as farmers welcome rain in spring. I smiled at them when they had lost confidence, my cheerful face encouraged them and gave them comfort in their despair."
Now I'd like to talk a moment about friendship. If ever there was word that could mean so many things, define so many moments, build so many bonds and change so many lives, that would be it; friendship. When I think of friendship, I'll admit I'm a little old school. I grew up here in Devon, back when two guys got into a fight over something stupid, threw some punches, but did it honorably, one on one, and when it was all said and done you shook hands and became friends (good thing too, because one of the first fights I ever got in was with Ian McKillop). God knows those days are long gone, but I grew up holding those ideals close to my heart and though I'm far from perfect, I've always approached friendship like it was a brotherhood, and would always do everything I could for a brother.
I met Kirk when he moved back from Dartmouth, back when we were just kids. He was the exact same guy we all know and love now, just a little smaller and a little shy (something he clearly grew out of). Even back then when I barely knew him, I liked Kirk, he was just one of those nice, easy going guys you enjoyed hanging out with. Now if I've heard Kirk tell this story once, I've heard it a million times. It was one of the first parties I even invited him to and because he was the new face some idiot pulled a knife on him and held it to his throat, threatening him. I saw it the second it happened, and I handled it in a not so Christian fashion. I barely knew him, but to me, a friend is a friend, no matter how well I know them, and I stand up for my friends. Ironically enough, the only time I've ever seen Kirk get angry and want to throw down with someone, was in defense of a friend. Never for himself, but he had us for that.
Kirk's never forgotten that night, mainly because he didn't understand why I did it. Now he does, because he's the same way. After that we became good friends. One of the many things we have in common is our love of movies. Kirk was actually the first person to ever buy me a movie for my birthday. It was Eddie Murphy Delirious...on VHS. I was told Sasha this the other night, joking around about how old it makes me feel seeing as how DVD's weren't even invented at this point. I was so moved and that was only the second gift. He and April gave me a Calligraphy pen set before that, because I'd told them about my love for writing. Today I'm a film critic and author, I write movie reviews, columns, comic strips and novels. A couple years ago, I get the 25th Anniversary Edition of Delirious to review for work. I dedicated the review to Kirk and surprised him with it after it was published. I could stand up here all day and night telling Kirk stories and that wouldn't even scratch the surface. And I know I'm not the only one. Cormier and I were laughing about it the other night saying it couldn't be done even be done in a year. Kirk loved life, he loved living and the only thing he loved more was seeing everyone around him as happy as he was. Mike Fitz said it best, you couldn't let anything slip in front of Kirk, because if he knew you were planning something, a birthday, a special occasion, not only would he rush out and find the biggest gift, he'd also jump at the idea of hosting it himself to ensure it was a go big or go home night you could be proud of.
Kirk always had a smile on his face, and he was the King of sly grins. Whether it was entertaining the crowd or one on one. There have been countless parties over the years and not only did Kirk enjoy them, he relished the memories through pictures, never leaving anyone out. But Kirk was also a heart to heart friend who spent just as much time counseling people through their problems as he did picking us up when we were down. (I'm reminded of Footprints in the Sand), my grandmother had religious verse hanging on the wall, just as Kirk did. I'm sure most of you have seen it before, but in case you haven't, this is what it says.
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along
the beach with the Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed
two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the
very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life there is
only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when I needed you most
you would leave me."
The Lord replied "My precious, precious child,
I love you and would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints in the sand,
it was then that I carried you."
If Kirk could carry us all, he would have. He wanted to help everyone. And he did, whether it was through laughter, tears, wise words, alcohol or all of the above, his hand was always out and his door always open.
We throw the word "friend" around like it's no big deal. We all do it. We like to tell ourselves we have lots of friends, that we know so many people, because at the end of the day we think it makes us feel good. We think it makes us look good in eyes of others. Problem is, it's an illusion, and deep down we all know it. Yes, we know countless people, and as a result have countless acquaintances with whom we have no problem spending small amounts of "fun time" with when things are good. But when we peel away all the layers, most of us can count on one hand the amount of good friends we truly have. Good friends being the ones who know everything about us, who walk the path of life with beside us always. But even amongst those good friends, how many of them can you say with 100 percent certainty, would never talk about you behind my back, would never try to sleep with your girlfriend or boyfriend, would never turn their back on you if you hit rock bottom. Kirk was that one friend who I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt was 100 percent across the board.
Now don't get me wrong, I've been fortunate to meet a lot of people like me over the years, great people, great friends, who score a solid ninety-five, even a few ninety-nines, and does that make them bad friends? Not at all. Problem is there's lots of ground to cover between ninety-five and a hundred. And that's why we're all here today, because those one hundred percent loyal friends are rare these days. And some people never find even a single friend like that in their lifetime. Funny thing about that is, I look around this room at the unique group of individuals gathered here, people from so many different social circles, unified within Kirk's sphere of influence. Like I said in the beginning, most of us aren't close, we're acquaintances through Kirk. That's not to say we couldn't all be closer, or that the thought isn't there, we just never get around to it. Why? We get busy with work, families, stress and all the rest of life's ironic surprises. But mostly it's because in life, as long as we have at least one true friend, a best friend, we're content with having that small group of close friends and a pile of acquaintances to fill the house when it's time to celebrate.
That one best friend is the glue holding it all together, the one person with whom you know you can let your guard down, laugh with, cry with, learn from and grow with. Kirk was that kind of best friend, and not just to me, to Cormier, Heart, Burns, Jay Francis and to so many others over the years, because no matter how much time passed, one visit was all it took to pick up right where you left off. And the worst part is that we know it deep down, but nothing can prepare you for the hole in your heart once you realize that person's gone.
Now that we've defined friendship, let me explain some of the many ways Kirk expressed these notions. Kirk was a Jack of trades when it came to friendship. I've never met a more selfless person. Not only would he give you the shirt off his back (one of his many unique T-Shirts), he'd even throw in some pants and a pair of shoes--and trust me, he had a lot of shoes. I've never met a guy with more pairs of shoes than Kirk. He's got a two door closet full of them, and half of them don't even look like they've been worn once. He was selfless when it came to material things, selfless when it came to money (he's the kind of guy who orders rounds of shots for everyone in the bar, who lends money without expecting you to return it, who opens his home to you for as long as you need it, or showers you with gifts that go above and beyond the norm). He was selfless when it came to the support of ambition or goals. Kirk made it a point to know what makes you tick, and whether you love to collect stamps or have aspirations of becoming president, Kirk was in your corner pushing you with both hands. His smile was always genuine, and seeing that smile was more than enough to drive you.
A recent example is Cormier's bodybuilding show. Kirk was almost more excited Cormier. He called me the night it was decided to tell me about it (tell story), he then rearranged his gym room in the house, took progression pictures (which he would pull out every time I came over) and grilled him non-stop if he thought Cormier was slacking. There was pride in his voice when he talked about it, because he loved you like a brother. Another guy he was proud of was Mike Fitz. He called me every time you had a fight with tickets, I was always working but he knew I wanted to go. He was so excited for you though, and I remember how mad he was that last time he got there and had just missed you because of a last minute card change. He was also proud of your girlfriend Jaclyn for her IFBB PRO accomplishments. Jaclyn was kind enough to explain the story behind a picture Kirk has where the two of them are sharing the moment. Evidently a cab was waiting, but Kirk didn't care, he wasn't leaving until he got that picture.
For me, Kirk was always supportive of my writing ambitions. His faith was unwavering back before I'd gotten any jobs in the field or had anything published. He was so proud of my novel, Blood Brothers, and couldn't wait to read every movie review, column or comic strip I got published. I work for two of the biggest movie websites on the net, and get paid to go the movies at least once a week as well as getting movies and TV series' and sometimes even video games mailed to me weekly for review. Kirk thought these were the coolest jobs ever. Kirk loved movies, and one of the perks of my job is the ability to get things that aren't available to the public (for example, I have one of three props of Marty McFly's hoverboard from Back to the Future 2. Sure, it's pink, but it's still a cool conversation piece). Kirk loved the show Sons of Anarchy and my boss was able to get a hoody done up like the ones in the show by a prop guy, which I gave Kirk for Christmas. A couple years back, there was a movie, Solomon Kane, that was supposed to come to theatres here but didn't. I'd shown Kirk the trailer and he really wanted to see it. For some reason it never got released on video here either, but got a limited release in Europe. I called my boss and asked if there was a way to get a hold of two Blu ray copies of the film, and he got them for me. Kirk was amped when I surprised him with it. He and I actually laughed about it the other day because nearly two years later it's still not available to the public.
These are the moments I'll forever cherish when it comes to Kirk. He had such a childlike innocence that made me smile. Who gets that excited over a movie, a video game, a TV show, a sword, a card game, or miniatures. Kirk did. His face lit up like a kid in a candy store overstocked for Christmas. But it wasn't just movies and games he loved. He loved Celtic crosses and anything Irish, he loved getting ink done and anything Harley Davidson. I don't know how many of you got in that Rhino with him, but let me tell you, it was an experience you'd remember if you did. Wayne was there, the last time I was riding in there with him. It wasn't quite spring yet, there was lots of snow on the ground. It was melting, and there were pools of water everywhere, sinkholes, broken paths, it was pretty much a deathtrap everywhere you looked. Kirk didn't care. He's laughing and giggling as we're flying down these paths, sliding into the ditch, branches snapping and popping. I'm pretty much thinking, "yep, we're gonna die". But I just shook my head, because I knew he was having the time of his life. There were so many parties, good times and gathering that it would take a novel to share them, probably even a trilogy. But the best thing about Kirk was all the quiet times, those nights sitting at the table or in the basement, talking into to wee hours of the morning, or kicking back on the couch playing video games. These are the times I'll miss the most.
Son: Kirk adored his parents, Jim and Doreen. And even from a young age, it was clear Kirk possessed aperfect set of morals and values. All through school, even as a young kid, Kirk was the first to volunteer for anything and everything, apt to help anyone and everyone in the process. Now volunteering meant he'd also volunteered his mother to help do whatever needed done. And whether it was baking for the class, sewing a sheep costume for a play, or making lunch for Kirk and all his friends at noon hour, Doreen was more than happy to do so.
And there is no man on this Earth Kirk looked up to, loved and respected more than his father, Jim. In High School when I talked about moving away and chasing my writing dream, Kirk was just as excited to learn all he could about Partner's Metal, his father's business, determined to make his dad proud. Kirk's ambition was as keen as his intellect, especially when it came to business. He couldn't say much about the work they did as a lot of it was government oriented (there were lots of spy/secret agent jokes), but when he did explain things, he was precise and to the letter. Kirk's only true fear in life was disappointing his parents, even though that was clearly impossible.
Father: Kirk was also a father, to one of his best friends in the entire world, Durban. He loved that dog with all his heart. I remember how devastated Kirk was when Durban got sick, or when he got cataracts on his eyes. Kirk would've gladly sawed off a limb to spare Durban even the slightest of pain. Durban knew it too, and loved Kirk something fierce. I loved it when Durban got riled up and possessive whenever too many people gathered around Kirk. He'd bark, jump around and then physically come between you. It was a heartwarming sight. Durban's not shy either. If he wasn't licking you for five minutes at a time or jumping all over you, he was trying to get a little frisky instead. My personal favourite would be when Kirk and I were sitting on the couch playing video games with Durban laying between us sleeping, and then all of a sudden if you didn't hear it, you smelt it, when Durban farted on you. Sometimes it was so loud he jumped, scaring himself awake, looking at us like one of us did it and then start barking. When Jim told me he grabbed Durban's picture to put with Kirk I smiled because Kirk would've wanted that (he was so proud of that picture). Thankfully Jim and Doreen's house is like a second home to Durban, and thought he no doubt misses his dad, I know Kirk will look in on him from time to time happy he's being well cared for.
And speaking of fatherhood, the one thing Kirk wanted most in life was to be a father. He adored children and was never anything but supportive where children were concerned. Nothing could paint this picture more clearly than how he chose to honor his sister, Janet, and her husband, Tim, by spoiling his four year old Nephew Isaac and two year old Niece Allie. Kirk had given them a WII (amongst many other gifts) which the two kids were using to watch Netflicks. Uncle Kirk's name came up as well as the fact that it was a gift from him. It was then Isaac said proudly, "Uncle Kirk loves to give things away." Kirk's selflessness and generosity are visible to even a four old. That alone speaks volumes for the guy's character. Another friend, Krista was pregnant not so long ago. Her life was upside down at the time, until Kirk graciously opened his home to her. I remember the night he called me and explained the situation, it was nearly my birthday. I'll never forget it because he called me twice last year on my birthday, once in the afternoon and then later that night when I was pulling in to a restaurant where Elinh was taking me out for supper. Kirk was adamant I come down for the night, and thankfully Elinh is understanding (which really means I'm lucky it was my birthday). Just go, she said, shaking her head. Only Kirk could get away with stuff like that, because Elinh couldn't get ever get mad at the guy or say no. A fact we exploited all too often.
I knew Kirk wanted to be a father more than anything, which was one of the countless reasons I asked him to be the Godfather of my soon to be born daughter, Aria. He was so excited. He told Sasha and his parents he was honoured, but it's me who's honoured. He and I joked about the fact that we've always been like brothers, but now it we were officially family. Just last week we were talking about being in the operating room when Elinh gives birth. When I first brought it up in front of her, she scolded me and told him he didn't have to be in there. And I said was, oh yes he does, especially after hearing all the horror stories Krista was telling the night of his birthday. If I have to see all that, so does he. Kirk just grinned and said, " of course I'll be there". You'll always be her Godfather bro, she'll know you through pictures and through hours of stories told by friends and family.
Sasha: But the most special bond of all was the one he shared with his true love, the light that guided him up and out of the vast darkness that nearly drowned him. After the accident, Kirk was worried about finding love again. Everything had been shattered; his heart, his self esteem, his health, he was worried no woman would want to share the burden he now carried, but he was wrong. Kirk was temporarily blinded by pain and sorrow, but I could see just fine. And I knew, as all who loved him did, that all it would take was the right woman to see what we see, even a glimpse would be enough. Sasha brought him hope. She brought him courage, and most of all she brought him love at a time when he needed it the most. There are no better words to describe it than those from her own mouth, which she wanted me to share:
Kirk was not only a loving boyfriend, he was my best friend. Despite our fear to love again, we couldn't help but fall in love. He always said that we were so "easy" because he never knew or imagined a relationship could come equipped with that kind of love, passion, respect, pride and devotion. He showed me how to love by filling me entirely with pure, unconditional love, he loved me for me. And I couldn't thank him enough for that. Until we are reunited as one again in the heavens above, I will cherish our love. He will forever be in my heart and he will forever be missed.
Cormier: There are more words, from another best friend, a guy whose pain I understand more than anyone. I'd met Cormier a couple times in passing way back when, but the first night I was actually going to hang out with him and Kirk, this is what Kirk said to me: "Look man, I'll be honest with you, Cormier doesn't like many people, and if he doesn't like you, he won't talk to you. I'm not worried about that at all, but just in case, don't be offended if he doesn't say much." I laughed. I'd already talked to him a couple times and that night we chatted a lot. One of my favourite nights with the both of them was a couple Halloween's ago, when Cormier couldn't figure out what to wear so he decided to cover himself in green paint and go as The Hulk. Elinh actually hung out and talked to him a lot that night but didn't know his name, she just kept calling him "The Hulk". I had to mention this as Halloween was Kirk's absolute favourite time of year, mine too, it won't be the same without you brother. Funniest part of that night? Cormier saying to me, "man, I'm feeling kinda woozy, I think I'm inhaling too much paint fumes." This is when we realized that it wasn't green makeup, he'd literally doused himself in paint. The following is what Cormier wanted me to share:
Ill never forget his smile could light up an entire room. No matter how hard times got, Kirk was always a shoulder for me to lean on, and always there to pick me back up whenever I fell flat on my face. We travelled the world together, spent countless hours sitting around his kitchen table, drinking coffee, playing chess, Barbecues, and countless hours playing xbox together. I am a better person today because I had the privilege of spending the last ten years of my life with Kirk by my side. He taught me to be humble, forgiving, and most of all showed me what it was like to have a true friend by my side 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
I could share many fond memories that I shared with Kirk, however it would take me years to sit here and tell you every single one of them. There is one story I'll never forget though with Kirk. We were in the Dominican republic together. We had a late night the first night we were there, and Kirk decided he was going to take nap in the afternoon so I went and grabbed some lunch and told him I'd come back to wake him up around 4pm. When I arrived back at the room Kirk was gone, So I called his cell phone to see where he was and he this was his response. “MAN!!!!! I'm down the road at Philippe's bar and grill come on down I'm having an awesome time” My response was dude where the hell is Philippe's bar and grill and what the hell do you think you're doing down there I thought you were sleeping!!!!
So I went down to Philippe's bar and grill and there was Kirk, sitting around with 5 or 6 locals from Puerto Plata drinking beer. He jumps up and says CORMIER come have a drink with me and my new friends!!!!!! These guys are awesome!!! I shook my head but took him up on his offer. I'll never forget the smile on his face. Like I said no matter where the guy was, he made friends quickly and everyone was quick to like him, there's no way you couldn’t. Kirk lived a very happy life, and knew how to enjoy life to the fullest and that’s exactly what he did. I know in my heart Kirk lived with no regrets, His strength and passion for everything he did was truly inspiring. I feel I have been blessed to have the opportunity to become so close with Kirk, he truly was one of a kind, and the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I will forever miss him.. You may not be here with us anymore, but in my heart you will live on forever. I love you Kirk. Till we meet again. Rest in peace
Inspiration: More than anything Kirk was an inspiration, a beacon of support and encouragement. He was someone who brought the best out of me and made you want to be a better person. I've often heard that best friends admire characteristics within the other that they themselves strive to possess. Kirk was that best friend. He was the best of all of us because he turned the other cheek, even when people didn't deserve it. He stood by you ready to beat the odds no matter how high they were stacked against you. If someone told him something couldn't be done, he'd simply laugh and do it anyway. I'd like to share my favourite quote: " It's what we do in our most desperate hour that defines us as people." There was no more desperate an hour than those Kirk, Andrew and Jim faced in Jamaica. Words can't describe toll this took on all of them. Yet, they rose above it. Kirk rose above it, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. This was Kirk's most desperate hour. But rather than break, he held his head high. He was strong for those he loved and cherished and was determined to let things play out on his terms. Kirk, I can't even begin to tell you how much respect I have for you. You were a brother to me always, even when I was miles away. You were there for me when I needed to talk about things I couldn't tell anyone else. Hollywood's always giving us movies about best friends whose bond is unbreakable, the perfect friendship, something everyone wishes they had. I wish I had more like you, but I don't. You were the one person I knew would never let me down. You were my best friend, you were Cormier's best friend, you were Sasha's best friend and you were Jim's best friend. But that doesn't mean everyone else in this room will miss you any less, everyone loved you and with good reason. You may have ended up with only a third of your pancreas, but that's okay, because you're heart was three times bigger than anyone's I know and it needed the extra room.