I was recently being interviewed for a job, group style, which is the worst kind. During the interview we were asked who the most influential person has been in our lives, which is a pretty intense question for a job at a bar. I was the last to answer and all of the answers before me were “my mom” and “my dad”. Now don’t get me wrong, my parents have definitely been major influences in my life but the more I sat and thought about it while everyone else answered first, I realized who mine was.
I didn’t want to get all sappy during a group interview with strangers so I kept it short and sweet to avoid the tears that normally well up in my eyes when I think about this person. I realized in that moment that the most influential person in my life was my good friend Adam.
Adam and I met while we were both living in Melbourne, Australia through our mutual friend Dylan. I was living and working as a nanny in Melbourne at the time and Dylan had come down a few months after me to live, work, and travel for a year. Dylan knew some friends from home who were also moving to Melbourne for school and he ended up living with them, which is how I met Adam. Adam and Dylan even shared a room with matching twin beds, nightstands, and clocks on their wall (they were really cute). I was so thankful to have these guys in my life because working as a nanny can be kind of lonely when you work every day, all day, and the only people you have to hangout with are either moms or little kids.
All of my favourite memories from Australia include Dylan, Adam, and Evan (their other roomie). I didn’t want to be the girl who goes all the way to Australia to experience a new life and then only hangs out with other traveling Canadians but that is definitely what ended up happening. Every Friday night and Saturday night was spent driving across the city to go for dinner with the guys followed by blasting ‘The Lumineers’ and ‘Of Monsters and Men’ in their living room while we got drunk and then ventured into the city to find a cool bar.
When Adam’s best friend Joel came to visit him in Melbourne for a month, the five of us took a road trip out to Philip Island for a few days. This has to be my favourite memory from Australia because I can’t believe I survived their shenanigans. We had a crazy lady staying at our hostel who hated us because we were loud and drinking on the balcony one night. On that same night, we took a fifty dollar cab ride to what felt like the only bar on the whole island. Joel started laughing in the back seat of the cab beside me and then turned his head and puked red wine all over the inside of the cab. The guys in the cab were dying because it smelled so awful and we were trying to pretend nothing happened. Joel even used his coat to try and clean up the red wine puke. Once we got to the bar, Evan and Joel disappeared outside while Dylan, Adam, and I went in. We watched from a window while the cab driver pulled up to the bar and told security one of us puked in his cab… they then found Joel and Evan and wouldn’t let them in the bar. Evan was threatening the security in his drunken state, saying that he was going to call the cops and tell them they were letting under age kids into the bar (even though it wasn’t true and we don’t know where that even came from). Joel had to pay the cab driver another fifty dollars so he could go get the cab cleaned. Finally the security came and found us and made us leave because we were with Evan and Joel. Then we all started walking around the town of Cowes… the smallest town in the world until we finally got a cab to go home. Who does the cab driver end up being? Of course it was the same poor man who drove us there. He called us the ‘Crazy Canadians’ and drove us back for another fifty dollars. This is my favourite part of the story… after we all went to bed, Joel decided to get up and go to the washroom in his underwear, without a room key. When he came back to the room he was knocking but since we were all drunk and passed out we didn’t hear him. The crazy lady I mentioned before was spying on him through a crack in her door and filming him on her cell phone so she could try and get us kicked out in the morning. Eventually at six in the morning we could all hear a slight tapping noise on the door and we thought it was someone kicking us out so no one got up to answer it until I finally did because I was beside the door. I opened the door and there was Joel, in his underwear, soaking wet, and beyond pissed off. He explained he had been knocking all night and the lady was spying on him and he finally went back into the washroom and since he was so cold he slept in a hot shower for a few hours. Adam, Evan, Dylan and I could not even handle how ridiculous his story was and the fact that when he knocked on the door it was the quietest, lightest tapping noise we had ever heard, which was later known as ‘The Whitty Tap”. We also did really cool stuff like see Koalas, Kangaroos, and Penguins but who wants to hear about that.
On my 23rd birthday I was supposed to take the guys out with my Au Pair parents for a night in the city, which would have involved a super fancy dinner followed by a wild night of bar hopping but it never happened. I woke up on the morning of my birthday with the most horrendous stomach flu known to man. I couldn’t even get up off of the bathroom floor and it was definitely the worst birthday I have ever had. A few days later when I was feeling better, the guys invited me over, gave me the most hilarious birthday card in the world, gave me a vegan birthday cake, and took me to my favourite restaurant in Melbourne for dinner. It ended up being a really wonderful birthday because to be honest, I have never had friends do anything like that for me before.
The guys were really only in Melbourne for a few months before they took off up the East coast of Australia and then went their separate ways. Adam went to Southeast Asia on his way home so I was able to follow his travels through Facebook. It was really sad when they left knowing that I still had a few months in Australia and my best friends were gone.
The hardest part of having the personality where you’re cool with traveling across the world and doing new things means you probably don’t stay in one area too long. I sadly did… when I came home I had no money and needed a car so I could get a job since there is no where to work in my small town and now it has been a year and a half and I am still here (barf). Adam travelled across the U.S. and then went to live in Ottawa and work on Parliament Hill for the government. Evan went back to Australia for a girl and is now living in Toronto. Dylan is also living in Toronto and pursuing his music career. It becomes hard to stay in touch with people when they’re not a part of your daily life. Since being back in Canada, I only communicated with Adam via Facebook chat and saw him at his annual Christmas party where the four of us were reunited again.
In October, 2014, Adam came down with a relentless flu that would not go away. He decided to come home from Ottawa so he could see his family doctor and was later diagnosed with an extremely rare blood disease. I found out Adam was in the hospital but I didn’t know how serious his condition was until I made a trip to visit him with Dylan and our friend Ames (a friend from Australia who was living in Toronto at the time). I will never forget how scary it was seeing him in the hospital and I will not go into details because I don’t want to focus too much on how sick he was. His personality and spirit never changed while he was sick… I couldn’t even believe how he could be so positive and nonchalant… talking about how he was planning on moving to Europe to continue his education and he loved his job and making money but he wasn’t going to be blinded by that because there was so much more to life. While I was sitting there and listening to him talk about his job and money it hit me… there is SO much more to life. I recently joined the corporate world, working a 9-5 behind a desk and all I can think about is how much I miss having the freedom to take time off and do what I want. I was a server for so many years and thought getting an office job was what I wanted, so I could make ‘real money’ and have evenings and weekends free but here I am… miserable and broke. I hate that I only have two weeks off a year and I make a hell of a lot less money than what I made as a server. After I left the hospital I felt so different about a lot of things in my life.
A few weeks after that hospital visit, while I was at work I realized I had a missed call from our Australian friend Ames. I thought it was pretty weird that he called me so I sent him a text asking if it was about Adam and he said it was. He said Adam was now in the ICU on life support and it was time to go say goodbye. I couldn’t believe it. I burst into tears and left my office immediately. Adam wasn’t going to make it. I sped home and then sped to the train station to get Ames. We went to the hospital where we were greeted by Adam’s parents and Joel. I will never forget how strong Joel was that day at the hospital when all of Adam’s friends came to say goodbye. Adam had more friends than anyone I know as he maintained close relationships with people from his elementary school, high school, university, and travels. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who lived every moment to it’s fullest? Who was so absolutely insane and hilarious at all times? Who wore a ‘Fire it up Suit’ when he partied and rapped like a Jamaican? Who was too smart for his own good, ambitious, and motived? Image all of the people at the hospital that day.
Joel brought Ames and I into the room to see Adam and before he did he told us it was likely going to be the last time we saw him. He let us cry on his shoulder and gave us each a hug. I sat beside Adam and held his hand for maybe ten minutes while Ames and I talked about our favourite memories with him. I don’t have much experience with death, which makes me really lucky, but made this so extremely hard. Losing anyone, at any age is hard… but it felt so much worse because Adam was a young man, he was a brilliant person with a zest for life.
Joel called me a few days before Christmas to let me know that Adam passed in his sleep. I knew when I saw his name of my phone that the news wouldn’t be good. Adam’s funeral was in mid January and there had to have been about four hundred people there. After the funeral, we all headed down to a local bar and celebrated his life the way he would have wanted us too… we drank the night away. It was weird seeing so many people there who were part of my Australian life. It was definitely one of the best nights I have had since being home.
Adam inspired me to want to do more with my life. He knew how to be a good friend and how to bring people together. I am not just writing this because he passed away. I am writing this because he made a difference in my life in the short time I knew him. He made me question what I want. He made me want more for myself, whether it is continuing my own education, moving to a new city or country, or traveling the world. He made me want to be a better friend. I wish I could have told him all of this when I had the chance but I can’t, which is why I am sitting here writing about it on a lovely spring day, months after he passed away. Anyone lucky enough to have spent even a minute with Adam would have known how wonderful he was. After Adam’s funeral, I made a promise to always ask myself, “What would Adam do?”. I want to live my life the way he lived his, wildly.