Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heartache and Honners

Sometimes just when you think you are making small steps to normalcy and perhaps the misery that has dogged your steps for months is beginning to fade there comes from left field another blow, a swift sharp baseball bat bash to the back of the knees and there you are - back with your face in the dirt.

I lost an old friend 2 days ago. Sean was 38 and had survived a heart transplant 4 years ago. But he was often ill, and finally succumbed to a heart attack on his way to a doctor's appointment on Monday morning.

Sean helped me out in those terrible first few days after Shane died so it seems inconceivable that I should now, 7 months later, be in HIS apartment helping sort out HIS belongings.

To place Sean within the context of this travel blog I want to relate an anecdote from several years ago that I know Sean loved.

I had travelled over to Italy for the Venice Biennale opening in 2001 and was flying home via Honolulu. Sean was living there at this time so it was the perfect opportunity to stop by and see him for a few days before coming home.

I left Vancouver and arrived at Honolulu airport where Sean was waiting to meet me. Customs, of course, asked me where I was staying while on the island. I said casually "Oh with a friend of mine".

"What is the address?" came the response.

"Ummm....ohh...errr... its a house up on the hill." (Well it WAS - I had seen a photo of it.)

"So - you don't know the address?"

"Ummm....not exactly. But I am staying at my friends place - he is outside waiting for me."

"What is his name?"

"Oh - it's Sean." I said, rather pleased with myself for getting one right.

"Sean who?"

Now I need to stress at this point, that by this particular time Sean was a very good friend of mine who I had known for quite a few years and socialised with often. He, another friend and I were the inaugural members of "The Breakfast Club" (We meet every Saturday at Tropicana Cafe in Kings Cross for breakfast.)

"Sean WHO?" said the customs agent a little more forcefully.

"Ummm.... I don't really know."

In all the years I had known him I had never known, nor needed to know his surname!

So obviously, I was a clear and present danger to the safety of that great nation and he refused me entry. He took me into a small room away from customs and another customs agent asked me to describe Sean.

Well, you would think as a visual artist, I would have excellent skills in visual descriptions wouldn't you?

All I could manage was: "Oh he's sort of average height, average weight, ummm dark hair (I think)...." at which I trailed off.

The rest of the people on my flight by this stage had cleared customs and were probably already ensconced in their hotel rooms sipping their complimentary Hawaiian cocktails.

So they sent someone out to look for 'average height, average weight Sean who lives on the hill.' When they found him, sitting on the ground wondering if I had even made the flight they explained the circumstances, and they then released me into his care. When I finally met up with him he was bent double in stitches. This episode kept him highly amused the entire time I was there.

Terry & Sean - on the hill! Honolulu June 2001

See ya mate - we laughed a lot together.

SEAN HAYES - At rest now.