I got the news shortly after getting home from a brief retreat with Joanna and Meagan. I audibly gasped. My long-time friend Keith Pittman had succumbed to injuries sustained from a bike accident. I immediately thought about our most recent interaction, just weeks ago. He looked good. Happier than I’d seen him in a while. Hopeful.
I met Keith in my earliest Parkdale days. He was wearing a ball cap and sitting on some steps, surrounded by what we called the crew- many people we have already said farewell to. I quickly detected his Newfoundland accent and told him of my honorary Newfoundlander status (even though I’m a Mainlander from Toronto). We immediately connected about things like Jigg’s Dinner, bottles of moose meat, and the smell of salt-water air.
Once a track-and-field guy, Keith spoke often of his running days that came to a halt due to an injury. He even set what I believe were provincial records- ones that he was proud to show me on-line. Sharing about those days seemed to make him grin and wince at the same time.
Keith was very open about what he called his “demons”. We had long talks about them, and his regrets. Our time often ended with his prayers. If his children stumble upon this one day: I want you to know that he tearfully spoke of you frequently over many years. I’m so sorry that the journey was such a difficult one for him, and for you.
I will miss Keith: his striking eyes, the way he would inquire about my life (“how ARE you my’love?”), seeing him bike around the neighbourhood. I have already caught myself thinking I see his familiar gait in the distance. I’m sad, just as many people are about Keith’s death. I extend my condolences to his family.
I’m not sure that Keith realized his impact. I hope he did. I also hope he’s now running like the wind, finally out of pain.