robrunningonbeach

i miss you, Robert Lloyd.

Two nights ago i was sitting with tbV in our courtyard drinking a glass of chocolate wine [it’s a thing!], eating Lindt balls and sharing a cigar, having a moment of remembering my best friend [this week has been filled with different versions of those] and we each shared stories of Rob and things that came to mind when we thought about him.

My first one was that he was there. He was just always there. And now he’s not.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

i love the words of this Dylan Thomas poem because i think ‘Raging against the dying of the light’ describes my buddy perfectly. Rob embraced the time he had left once he was given the terrible sentence of cancer, and he refused to give up but completely carried on living life to the full.

This poem sucks though as it speaks of old age being the time when you need to be reminded to rage against the dying of the light. My friend has been taken far too soon.

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There are a million words to be said, and maybe they will be over time, but the three stories that have been swirling around in my head the most over these last few painful days have to do with the beginning, the middle and the end.

HOW DO BEST FRIENDS MEET?

2014 40th bday mumford mates

This story is going to confuse the musicians among you. You’ll be screaming at your screen, “NO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? RUN AWAY! THAT’S HOW FRIENDSHIPS ARE ENDED!” And you’re probably right.

One question Rob and i have been confused about for so very long was how did we meet and become friends and then such very good friends. And while i can’t answer for him, i figured it out in the last few years as i remembered the story i believe to be our first proper meeting.

We were on a Scripture Union camp at Rocklands [probably October Leadership] and i was just learning to play bad guitar at home and so i [definite No-No – don’t try this at home kids] picked up a guitar which i thought belonged to a different Lloyd, Lloyd Katz, who i think was leading worship on the camp, and started to play my three chord song.

Suddenly, no idea how, the strap inexplicably slipped off of the handle end of the guitar [The Headstock i believe it’s called] and smash! Guitar handle hits the ground and the ‘best part’ is a chip of guitar flies off…

Oops. Except that i have had some experience with musicians and should have been aware that even touching someone else’s guitar without asking is asking for death but it all happened so fast and suddenly i was in the metaphorical crap.

i found Lloyd and was told that actually that particular guitar belonged to Rob and so i sought him out and started the conversation with, “You’re going to kill me…” and his response shaped a friendship and transformed my way of thinking about people and things for the rest of my life. i don’t actually remember how i thought about it before then, but i definitely know that i look back to that moment as a life shaping and enhancing moment.

He simply said, “Dude, it’s a thing. People are more important than things.”

So i get it from my side, but i’m not quite as sure why he saw my friendship as positive as he did, cos i can’t remember him breaking any of my stuff.

[Also, in case this might seem like a once off occasion, there was a time when i was sitting on the side of a mountain proposing to my now-wife Val unsuccessfully and the moment it was obvious that it was going to be a “No!” there was this huge gust of wind which threw my laptop over the side of the mountain and i turned to her and told her, “You’ve pissed off God.” Fortunately a few months later there was another more successful proposal but in the meantime my buddy Rob had given me the gift of a big pile of money that he had been saving up for his own new laptop so that i could buy a replacement one – Rob’s generosity knew no limits!]

Brett's b-day 227

THE CASE OF FRIENDSHIP INSOMNIA

One of my favourite Rob stories involved myself and two other friends, Candi Mitchell and Travis Dent, who for some reason came up with the idea that toilet papering a church deacon’s garden at 2 in the morning was a clever idea [Was it Costa that suggested it or did he just egg us on? i forget!]

But we ended up dressed all in black with black face paint streaks in the Parkers garden in Marina De Gama throwing toilet paper over cars and bushes and being generally giggly until a BLOOD CURDLING SCREAM emanated from the bathroom and we ran for our lives – i stopped to pick up the bags and the extra toilet rolls and the jerseys and more and Candi had one job – grab the keys! But in the moment of panic, Candi did not pick up the keys and so we ended up a few blocks away, sitting in someone’s driveway puffing and panting and generally in a state of maximum freakout as people came outside with torches and phoned police and walked the streets and more importantly found and grabbed our car keys.

They didn’t find us and so thirty minutes later we’re sitting in the road, wearing black camouflauge vibes, with no car keys and with laptops and other expensive equipment sitting in the car.

So i phone my best mate Rob, who i believe was still single at the time.

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But, because i’m a bit of a complete and utter bastard at times, my side of the conversation starts like this: [picture Rob having just been woken up at 3am answering the phone]

Hey buddy. I see you can’t sleep either..?

i don’t remember him complaining or whining or lecturing or anything. But Rob jumped into his car and rescued us with the spare set of keys so that we could get our stuff home as well.

Rob is my 3am guy and for years since then i’ve used that example in talks and asked people, “Whose 3am person are you?” Who is the person you call when everything comes falling down and it’s not a comfortable time to connect with most people?

One of the last moments i shared with Rob was reminding him of this story and saying that now that he faces a much huger 3am moment that i am his guy. And there are a bunch of other committed people who are going to be around to make sure that Nicky is taken care of and to be there for family and friends when it gets hard.

i love that i never doubted for a second that you were that guy for me, Rob, and i hope you knew that i was always going to be that guy for you.

In fact one of my epiphany moments of the last two weeks was remembering back to a time i hosted gatherings called ‘Not A Meeting’ because of my hatred of meetings-for-the-sake-of-meetings and Rob pitched up at one wearing this shirt he had made.

i only realised now – having spent a few times the night before the Argus Cycle tour making similar shirts of my own – what an absolute effort it is to actually sit and create one of those things [so flippin time-consuming] and yet it was just another small example of the great love and care my buddy had in supporting me. He was someone who made the small moments louder!

GRADUATING LIFE WITH HONOURS

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My final story is about my last moments with Rob…

One of my favourite movies is ‘With Honours’ where Brendan Fraser’s law student Monty loses his thesis one night and it is found by Joe Pesci’s homeless man, Simon. Throughout the movie, parts of Walt Whitman’s poem ‘Song of Myself’ are quoted and the movie ends with the different housemates reading parts of the poem to Simon as he dies…

The message from Simon to Monty

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.

About seizing the moments

To drive free to love free…
To court destruction with taunts…
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fullness and freedom!
One brief hour of madness and joy.

and finally…

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Because he chooses to look after his friend as he dies, instead of handing in his thesis in time, Monty doesn’t graduate Summa Cum Laude, but the point is that he has lived his life with honour.

My last moment with my best friend, Rob Lloyd, took place on Saturday and i had the very special gift from Nicky and family of being alone in the room with Rob and in my own little ‘With Honours’ moment i got to read a couple of passages from the Bible to him.

i read my favourite psalm, 34, which contains the words,

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

i read psalm 136 which begins with the line: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. ‘ And continues with the refrain: ‘His love endures forever’ again and again throughout the song, ending with: 

He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

And lastly i read from Revelations 4 and 5 which included this section:

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

When i had finished, Nicky was there in the room with me and we looked at Rob and he had fallen into a deep sleep. Like Monty, on paper Rob has not necessarily achieved a whole bunch of noteworthy distinctions in terms of things the world looks at and make a big fuss over. But on people, Rob has left his mark more than most, so deeply and profoundly that we will never be the same again.

And i firmly believe that people are the currency of heaven, and that nothing else really matters. And so my mate Rob definitely without any question or moment’s hesitation, has graduated life Summa Cum Laude [with the highest honour].

i miss you, Rob Lloyd. Thank you for being my friend.

= = = = = 

A final few words about a very special lady:

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Ah, Nicky Lloyd. Where do we begin? [Not without tears clearly, phew] This is one of my absolute favourite pictures of Rob because it is a Rob + Nicky picture and such a stunning one at that.

i have tried my best to do the little i can over these last two weeks in particular to be able to help protect her time with Rob and give her space and help keep the well-meaning people at enough distance so she can just be free to process and grieve and celebrate his life as much as she can. As much as i loved my friend, which was a whole lot, i believe she loved him more.

Nix, you have been absolutely amazing in all this and i hope that today you are given the space you need, to celebrate deeply and grieve in whatever way feels right to you. Thank you for being an absolute gem of a wife to my friend and especially for all the times we got to spend together as the four of us over coffee and bacon and food and sports events and that special time with The Grand Canyon as a back drop. We treasure those memories deeply and we hurt alongside you at a time when words are so [insert a compendium of the four letter ones to help make the point] useless. My gift to you is the knowledge of the middle finger emoji – use it well as needed.

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Love and strength and peace and grace to you at this time. And all the space that you need.

Thank you for loving my friend so well.

= = = = =

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Further reading for those wanting to know how we can serve and support those who are closest at this time:

When Sickness of Tragedy Strikes – When someone you know is facing a desperate sickness or has lost someone they love.

10 Ways to Avoid an Unwanted Hug – Slightly tongue-in-cheek advice on how to ensure the hugs you want to give are wanted to be received.

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