He used to say he’d marry me

…if only I was a dude.

Such was the wit and wisdom of my friend Bruce, who is gone now, and I am so much poorer for it.

Of all the people I’ve “met” on the innertubes, there are many that I might like to have a beer with, but few that I consider Good Friends.  Bruce was one of that latter rarified class, and the fact that we’d never actually met in “meat space” didn’t diminish it.

Ours was one of those “instant” friendships that springs up when for some quirky reason, two people just hit it off.  A similar age and rebellious history,  an appreciation of twisted humour, all things Mac and men in leather  and engineer boots — the last being a shared addiction that both delighted and dismayed us (“We’re drawn like moths into the flame”, one of us sighed during one of our many discussions on the topic).   We also shared decades of indentured servitude to the advertising industry — sometimes even at the same agencies, albeit at different times.  We were two unrepentant freaks laughing out loud at a hostile universe, delighted to have found each other.   What a gift.

But not for long, as I found out yesterday.  Again.

In a bitterly ironic coincidence, Sunday was the anniversary of the death of my older brother, another gentle soul that succumbed to the inner voices of evil and wretched secret despair.   And now the shadows of early December fall darker still.

Goodbye, my friend.  I will miss you.

17 Responses to “He used to say he’d marry me”

  1. 1 B York Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Beautiful tribute JJ. I’m sorry you never had meat space together because I’m sure you both would have enjoyed it immensely. It was not secret that you two shared a very strong bond. Again, I am so sorry for this loss. I can only imagine your pain.

  2. 2 BrianWren Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I’m sorry to hear.

  3. 3 harpervalley Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    geeze, JJ…I know you two were really close…it’s shitty enough for me let alone people who were better friends, and needless to say, family.

    I just found out late today. Sucks.

    You wrote a really nice piece about him and your friendship together. It ‘caught’ him and that’s all that’s needed, and all that’s left – those beautiful, treasured memories of one of the good people on this earth.

  4. 4 900ft jesus Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 5:11 am

    I’m sorry, jj. Bruce is a beautiful man. It’s hard not to be at least a little in love with him.

    For you, your loss is heavier than most of us net pals because your friendship went beyond the blogs. When it comes to suicide, what most of us find torturous is agonizing over the very dark place we feel the person must have been in at the end – the despair…

    We can’t know for certain what was in Bruce’s mind but for my part, I hope it was quiet resolve rather than hunted despair. Knowing him only from his blogging, I think he struggled with this for many, many years, so I suspect he made his decision more in a calm fashion, a final life choice. I’m not saying that’s all fine, but you know what I mean.

    Bruce’s writings reflect incredible courage in his battles: for change, to enlighten others, to find ways to keep on living.

    We shouldn’t look at his final choice as the summary of his life – and I’m very, very sure you don’t – but rather look at how many battles he did win, and how many years he fought successfully. He wrote often about child suicide, so it warms my heart that he carried on his courageous inner battles for as long as he did.

    And during those years, he had the strength, love and hope to share his experiences with people he doesn’t even know so that we can learn from him what can keep hope in our hearts, and how we can go on.

    He showed us the value of slowing down to take time to just live by paying attention to the beauty and diversity in the world around us.

    Again, I’m so sorry for your loss and what a terrible time of year for this. But I am so grateful that so many of us got to know him through his writing, and even more, that the way he impacted on our lives was entirely positive. The children of his gentle spirit live in us, now.

  5. 5 Ricky barnes Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Dear JJ

    I know how much Bruce thought of you. I can really only add that he made so many wonderful friends here. You and Bruce were two peas in a pod. its not hard to see that here. I hope you and I can meet one day. Bruce and I were like brothers. He would never marry me! 😉 or me marry him. He was a tough but gentle guy. He really considered you among his best best best friends.

    You have something special.



  6. 6 Joe Agnost Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Beautiful post JJ… we’re all poorer now without Bruce, RIP.

  7. 7 Cornelius T. Zen Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Good morrow, all!
    From one of my favorite songwriters:

    Well, life isn’t fair, you’ll hear people say
    Everyone you love, time will take away
    But save all your tears, this is not goodbye
    Some things cannot change, some things cannot die

    You’ll be somewhere, in that place where
    I’ll be going
    You will always be beside me, without knowing
    Every moment you’ll be with me
    Every moment you’ll be with me

    – Lawrence Gowan “You’ll Be With Me” (from The Good Catches Up)

    Don’t say goodbye. Say “see you next week – whenever that is.”

    From one who has been there – CTZen

  8. 8 Jonathan McLeod Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm


    I’m so sorry to hear that. All I can offer are my deepest condolences. I hope you’re holding up ok.

  9. 9 Bleatmop Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    My condolences to you JJ and his friends and family. I’m always saddened to heard when people feel so trapped and hurt that there is only one way out.

    Goodbye Bruce. It seems certain that at least one person will carry loving memories of you forward.

  10. 10 Mark From Slap Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    JJ, I’m so sorry. Bruce was such a great guy, and the strength of your friendship was clear from both of your blogs.

    Bruce would email me now and then; he always brightened my inbox considerably, and I’m grateful for all the exchanges I was able to have with him. He’ll be missed terribly.

  11. 11 jkg Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I am sorry for your loss, JJ.

  12. 12 lulugirrrlll Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Oh JJ — I’m so very sorry for your loss. Just know that this girl in Ottawa is thinking of you with love.

  13. 13 Rev.Paperboy Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

    aw shit. I just found about this today and I just cannot believe it. I never met Bruce except online, but he was a hell of good guy and a hell of a good writer. My condolences to those who knew him better than I did and my sympathy to those who never had the pleasure of knowing him or his work — you missed one of the good ones. He will be missed.

  14. 14 JJ Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks everyone. My heart goes out to Bruce’s family and his real friends out in meat space, like Ricky. Saddest condolences.

  15. 15 JJ Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Ricky – I am so sorry for your loss. You lost a friend and a brother, and make no mistake, Bruce thought of you as a brother. I will never forget how proud and excited he was that you were returning to the blogosphere — he even put up an announcement post on his blog, to inform everyone of the return of Rick Barnes! 😆

    I most definitely want to meet you someday Rick. I don’t get out east much, but my family is there so I do occasionally make the hike (though not, unfortunately, for the last few years or I would have met Bruce by now). Sigh. Next time I’m out we’ll get together for coffee and memories of our dear friend.

    I still can’t believe it 😥


  16. 16 pale Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Hey jj,

    My belated hugs. 😦
    December is a dark dark month. Now it is darker.

  17. 17 JJ Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at 5:32 am

    Thanks pale, and hugs right back to you.
    I know Bruce was a good friend of ACR, too, it was one of the few sites he frequented and commented at.

    Sigh. It’s ironic — just hours before I found out about Bruce, a friend of mine was asking me why I hate Christmas so much and I said “Because everything shitty that’s ever happened in my life has happened in December”. Then I got online and found out about Bruce 😥

    Christmas, bah humbug: on the whole, I’d rather be in Puerto Vallarta 😐

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