I wish you were still here

Quite a few months ago, I started writing this post to honor my friend, Doug Pitters, who departed from this world far too soon. Unfortunately, I never got around to posting it. Well, today marks the one year anniversary of his death, so here it goes...


In a previous post, I talked about the fact that each of us should cherish every day that we are alive and use it to its fullest. I am such a strong believer in this concept that I regularly toss it into conversation to remind both my audience and myself of its importance.

On the morning of November 19, 2012, I was catching up with an old high school buddy via email. In the course of updating him on  what had been going on in my slice of the world,  I said:
I had to face up to the fact that ... the next day (or even the remainder of the current day) is guaranteed to no one.
When I typed those words, I never thought that just a few hours later that I would be reminded that they were not just a statement of opinion, but cold, hard fact.

That evening, I got a call from one of my buddies back in Boston who informed me that our friend, Doug Pitters, had passed away just hours before. Needless to say, I was completely shocked. Though death is a certainty, you can sort of be quasi-prepared when someone is old or ill. On the other hand, losing someone out of the blue who''s in their early 40s is just devastating. I spent the rest of that evening emailing and calling folks around the country to share the sad news.

The next day, I decided to turn my focus on celebrating the greatness that Doug had brought to my life. Along with several friends, we organized a gathering at The Druid Pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was a great time to share each other's company, trade stories about Doug and listen to what we think is one of the last DJ mixes he'd put together (Doug was an excellent house DJ and is the person solely responsible for opening my horizons to club music). I had the bartender pour a pint for Doug and I set it on the bar covered by a coaster; the same as one would do for someone that had to step away from the pub for a moment.

Our event ended and my life continues. But on occasion, I will get a brutal reminder that Doug never came to the pub that night to claim that pint and that he never will. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to teach myself some techniques for QA testing web applications. I thought to myself, "Who do I know that is an expert in this QA stuff to explain it better? Ah, I know, Doug!" Damn.

In the few weeks between learning of his death and our life celebration in his honor, I combed through my many memories of him built up over the span of a far too short 24 years -- more than half my life! I assembled them into a few words that I read aloud at the event:

Artist. Advisor. Competitor. Coach. Debater. Engineer. Comrade. Sage. DJ. Friend.

Whether you met Doug recently, decades ago, or some time in between, I can say without hesitation that you were touched. He was the right combination of bad ass, soccer hooligan, house head, and wise man. He was about the "we" rather than the "me."

My favorite thing about Doug was his ability to sit quietly while a big, heated discussion was going on around him. If you didn't know him very well, you might assume that he was self-centered, aloof, or unaware of what was happening. After all, he was just sitting there in the corner looking cool while the rest of us were losing our minds arguing some point. Then, Doug would motion and the chaos would stop. He would calmly and deliberately deliver the "right" answer and explain why it was the right answer. And, miraculously, everyone would agree!

Like the rest of you, I am shocked and saddened that he was taken from us far too soon. But, I can sit here with a smile on my face for I am happy to have had him in my life.

Today, let us join together to remember, reflect, and rejoice that our lives were touched by such a great soul.

Music was a big part of Doug's life, as was The Druid. We could think of no better way to reminisce over Doug than by assembling in this place, enjoying some of Doug's favorite music, and raising a pint in his honor.

Doug, we love you and we miss you.

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