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Happy Birthday Kjell

Saturday July 30, 2011 - Author: NightStorm - Comments

July 31st, 1978… 33 years ago, my best friend entered the World.  It would be another 5 years before I actually met him and got to know him, but what followed was a good solid decade of friendship.  We had done so many things, that I could not possibly begin to recount it all now.  From nanaimo bars and sugar cookies at the bakery next to his parents store (he lived upstairs), to pretending that we were going to turn his Dad’s large cube van into a rocket, to using his Commodore 64 to code a laser so we could shock (he often referred to it as “zap”) his sister Kajsa (yeah, we were a little strange).  There were movies in Victoria, swimming at the Hotel (Marco Polo was a lot easier for us to win when we could team up and both see underwater), apple fights with the teenagers who lived behind his grandparents house, hockey games in the living room, and even a dart game that resulted in me being hit in the head by one.  We both had an obsession with He-Man (it was 1986, leave me alone), music, and computers.  He also had a small crush on my sister at the time, which was cool because he was already like my brother so what could go wrong from that?  Heh… memory flashback.  We (Kjell, myself, my sister Natalie, and her boyfriend at the time) had gone to a movie in Victoria… we were originally going to see King Kong Lives, but because Kjell and I were not yet old enough, we had to go see a different movie instead (Nat and her bf still went to King Kong, I believe).  After the movie, there was a race to the bus stop… if Kjell beat me, Natalie would give him a kiss.  Of course, I let him run ahead, and got to watch him blush as Natalie gave him a kiss on the cheek.  Stupid memory, but it’s the small ones that meant nothing at the time, that mean so much to me now.
Kjell was a bit of a wild one… eclectic is the best way to describe him.  While I was the mild mannered one (I grew up somewhat shy), Kjell was the one who always jumped into things with both feet.  That’s probably why he was so good at everything he did, because he didn’t let doubt hold him back.  While my friend network for most of my youth was closed up, he was out there making friends with pretty much everyone.  It was a little overwhelming at times, but watching how he interacted with a complete stranger who would come into the store was a form of entertainment in, and of, itself.
As the years went on, we slowly started to lose touch with one another.  His family had moved from over the store (a 10 minute walk from my house) to miles away.  We had gone from seeing each other daily, to weekends.  Time passed, and we grew apart.  Sure, we still talked on the phone lots, and I’d make a trip out to his place (a bus to the bottom of the hill, then a 15 minute climb up it to his house), or he would come visit in town.  But it wasn’t every day.  Then came the big moves… he moved to Victoria, and I moved to Pender.
Yeah, even then I still kept in touch, though not nearly as often as I should have.  He would make the occasional day trip to the Island to visit, or I would look him up when I was over there, but it wasn’t the same as it had been.
When I was 14, I got to go to Nova Scotia for my aunt’s wedding.  I had talked to Kjell before leaving, and knew that I’d give him a call when I got home and tell him about all things I got to do while I was there.  I was wrong.  While I was gone to Nova Scotia, Kjell turned 14, and travelled to Alberta.  While he was gone, there was an accident, and he didn’t come back.  When I got home, my parents started to tell me that something had happened while I was away.  Even with growing apart over the last few years, I knew he wasn’t there anymore.  They didn’t actually tell me… I told them.  In the blink of an eye, my best friend for a full decade was gone.  I had missed his 14th birthday, I had missed his telling me about a trip he was taking, and I had missed his funeral.
That was 19 years ago.  I still regret not being there for his family, but I have come to accept that it is not something I can ever change.  All I can do is remember the good times we had together growing up, and do little writeups like this once in a while to make sure I always remember.  Sure, some of the memories are gone… that’s what happens when we get *cough* old, but it’s the important memories that stay behind.  And the others aren’t actually gone, they’re just filed away, waiting for that little trigger so they can jump back out at you and make you smile, or laugh, or cry, or wonder just what the Hell you were thinking that day… oh, we had a lot of those… and I am so glad that his parents don’t know about some of them… those are the memories I’ll be taking to the grave with me, thank you very much.
On July 31st 2011, Kjell turns 33.  Happy birthday, Kjell.  You’re missed, but I’m doing okay.

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