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!

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