A tribute to my friend John Bachman

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Sometimes a post can wait. This is not one of those times. I am on an airplane on my way to Boston to meet my boys, then get back on a flight that will bring us all back to Illinois for Christmas. Today is the reunion I’ve been counting down since September. Today is happiness. Today is tears of joy. Today is Christmas day for me.

Until I read the news…

Prayers for the family of John Bachman. He will be missed.

What?! Not my friend! Not the one who claimed retirement was a fatal condition and he was alive and kicking. Not John!

A phone call to a friend Carolyn, whom I awoke at such an early hour. No she hadn’t heard… Wait someone else posted on his page on Facebook. She would make a call, then get back to me.

Facebook… Last night I shared an article on my page about a 71 year old Amherst man being killed in a fatal hit and run on Merrimack Road. The road I used to live on. The road the kids and I traveled everyday when we moved in order to get them to school. I decided to share the article because the police were looking for information on the driver…maybe one of my NH friends could help.

Suddenly it hit me and I went immediately to WMUR’s Facebook page. There it was: “20 year old driver in fatal hit and run that killed former Amherst Fire Chief turned himself in”

Former Amherst Fire Chief… John!

I immediately called my Julie. The second friend I awoke to deliver the worst news…

I tried to call two more friends and spoke to Carolyn again. There are no words…

Suddenly, the happiest of days brings tears of another kind.

I met John almost 10 years ago, fresh off delivery of baby #2. He was a member in my BodyPump class. John was one of few men that attended class regularly. And he had a spot…his spot…smack dab in the center of the room. He would tell you it was because of the fan. But we all knew it was strategic placement to surround himself with women!

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Over the years that class grew, friendships were formed. We had a group that started hanging out together outside of the gym. We learned about each other’s families. We became friends.

Our group joked and teased each other inside the gym, a lot! In the chest track I used to cue members to target the bottom of their sports bra. Ever the jokester, John shows up in class with a yellow tank that he had drawn a black line across in sharpie and written “SB”. SB?!? Sports bra… now he would know where to bring the bar. He wore that short frequently to BodyPump over the years. Thankfully, he usually wore pants too. Except for the one morning, when he apparently forgot that he forgot to wear shorts underneath his long pants, which he had down to his knees before he realized his error!

John was the perfect mix of serious and silly. He was educated on so many topics. He could argue a point, but having you laughing in the next breath all done with a smile on his faced.

He would do anything to help a friend. He knew that sometimes “help” required standing back and letting you figure out how to help yourself.

John encouraged my writing. He was one of my biggest supporters when I decided to start a blog and when I was offered a job with the local paper. John was a man who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He supported me in my decisions because he understood that I never came to them lightly. He was a thinker, a researcher and he recognized those traits in me.

Maaaybe one of the greatest things about John was that he never failed to let people know that he cared. He didn’t have to do it with words. If you held a place in John’s heart, you knew it. His actions conveyed his sentiment… the sign of a truly great man.

I’m certain he knew how special he was to me. I hope I told him. He was a father figure to me. I trusted him. I loved him.

I would’ve liked to say goodbye, but as with the other 3 most important men in my life, that was not to be. Like my Grandpa, my Dad and my best friend, John was taken suddenly, without warning and far too young.

Nevertheless, he wouldn’t want tears for him. He’d rather we enjoy a glass of wine and the company of good friends while laughing about Carolyn pushing his socks down to keep him from looking foolish at the gym.

Laughter through tears is the greatest emotion. John would want that from us.

In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

There will be tears, but I will always smile when I think of my friend John because my life is richer for having him in it.

Hug the ones you love, even when they piss you off. Seize those moments of joy that each day brings for someday it will be those moments that are all you have left.

Goodbye John! May the butterfly chick play on repeat for you in heaven without requiring you to lift heavy weights!

Guest Post – The truth in small towns

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There are many things I can and will eventually blog about my experiences returning home to this small town as an adult after leaving as a kid (who thought she was an adult).

Today’s truth about small towns comes from someone I knew as a small child who I was reintroduced to through Twitter. I believe that people come into our lives for a reason. The timing of her return is oddly perfect. After our chats and reading my blog, she wrote the following and posted it on Facebook. With her permission I am sharing it with you.

(I have also encouraged her to blog. She has a unique way of looking at the world based on some tough life experiences. I think there is something to be learned from her. Maybe she’ll at a minimum provide guest posts here!)

I will be certain to share any comments…. enjoy the words of my new-old friend Marcia Hunt Burdick:

Note about a Small Town – you may not like this

December 13, 2013 at 9:03pm

I’ve reconnected a friend from the past and it happened in such a random way.  One of those, “You look just like this girl I knew years ago” situations and it turned out to be her.  We talked, shared a little about our families and then she gave me a peek into her life.  I mean her real life.  She’s very open and honest about the path that has led her to where she is now.  And even though we haven’t spoken in decades, I felt immediately connected to her.  Not just because she’s hilarious and cool as shit but also because so many turning points in our lives were eerily similar.  One major difference … she has returned home.

It’s never been a secret that I was not made for small town life.  I craved invisibility, anonymity.  That would have never happened in either town in which I lived as a kid.  Since 1998 I have lived in major metropolitan areas and love it.  I can go anywhere I want with a high probability that I will never see anyone I know.  It really works for me.  But to be honest, there has been one time when coming from a small town has been a comfort to me … when my Mom died.  It helped me to be around people who knew and loved her as much as I did.  They triggered a lot of good memories to get me through the most difficult time of my life.  But even then the small town culture wasn’t put on hold.  People judged me and my sister because of how we chose to care for her and protect her in her final days.  Those people were not sitting at her kitchen table with her, discussing what SHE wanted and how SHE wanted us to help her.  Many of the same people gossiped about us at the funeral and and the reception at the Moose afterwards.  They were just lucky that I was too mentally exhausted to address it at the time.  After this experience, I know without any uncertainty that I could never willingly live among those people again.

I also know it may not always be my choice.  Like a lot of people, I am a few paychecks away from being homeless.  Should I lose my job or become disabled, I may have to depend on my family.  I know they would gladly help and I would gladly accept.  But it would put me back in a small town.  Where everyone would know the story of my downfall – or at least some story that has been created by the most cruel and childish game of Telephone imaginable.  My life would be dissected and picked apart.  Maybe the gossip mongers would feel entitled because they’ve known my family for 50 years or they’ve known me since I was “this high.”  They aren’t.  In fact, it should be the opposite.  There’s no compassion, no sense of empathy but rather a feeding frenzy on someone who doesn’t fit the mold anymore.  We went away, we changed, we aren’t one of them anymore … we are fair game.  There is no warm “coming home” for us and that really sucks.  Yes, we can go back and see our friends from school, stay a weekend and have a bunch of fun.  But when we really need a safe haven, there’s none to be found outside the walls of our family’s homes.

So when you see someone return home under less than desirable circumstances, try to withhold judgement.  You don’t know what that person has been through or what is happening in their life.  You may see and you may hear but you still DO NOT KNOW what is happening in their heart and mind.  If you were childhood friends, reach out and let them know you still care.  But know that they have changed.  Their life experiences could be vastly different than yours and they won’t be the same person that you graduated with.  If the changes are not something in line with your personality or morals, then friendship won’t be possible but there’s no need to join the Mean Girls/Guys club either.  Just mind your business.  Unless their actions directly affect you, what they do or say is quite simply not your business.

We talk about kids bullying each other but sometimes the adults are just as bad, if not worse.  Life is honestly too short – live your own life before it’s gone.

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 Marcia and I crossed paths again for a reason. Who knows ultimately what that may be. I am just grateful that she is someone I can talk to when life here gets me down because she is one of the few who “gets” it. I hope you enjoyed her words as much as I and possibly took something away from them. After all we’re all just trying to get by in life and if someone’s words can help in some small way, then we’re all better off!