Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Friend.

Yesterday, many people in the Boulder community were forced to say our final goodbyes to our good friend Terence (TJ) Doherty, who we lost to a bicycle accident.

I'm selfishly writing this blog because my memory isn't what it once was, and want to be able to remember TJ years from now. I'm sharing it because it's events like these that help us to reflect on our own lives and the people involved in them.

I met TJ during my first week here in CO at a Monday night Fun Run at Fleet Feet, where I later took a job, and where also, TJ had once worked part-time. We ran the Wonderland Lake Loop that night, and I specifically remember TJ effortlessly pulling away from a pack of guys that I need a steady dose of caffeine and adrenaline to keep up with even now that I'm acclimated to the altitude. After the run, I remember inquiring about the Pumas he was wearing. He was the only person I really spoke with that night who I didn't already know.

We developed a unique friendship in that TJ, for some reason, felt the need to pick on me incessantly. 8)  Most of you know that I've got a pretty long fuse, but man, could he ever burn that thing down quickly. I specifically remember getting into an argument with him one day about something completely stupid and unresolvable. (He was also one of the few who could coax me into such arguments). As the issue was close to my heart and I'm a pretty passionate guy, I was noticeably upset when I failed to defend my point in this battle of wits. I'll never forget the look on his face as he immediately pulled his foot off the verbal gas pedal and we all got quiet. After a few moments, I quietly got up to catch my bus, and before I left, he made sure to look me in the eye and shake my hand.

From there, our friendship took on a slightly different shade. The needling never stopped - I think he knew that I needed it. He still made me want to smack him every once in a while, but inevitably, he would throw one of those "heeeyyy, c'mon!" grins at me, and I'd let it slide.

That said, TJ also went well out of his way to help me quite a few times, and as he was careful not to let anybody else know, I'll keep them to myself. But, it happened. He was good to check up on me as I went through the difficulties of trying to get plugged into a new city.

I remember a few weeks ago, I punched him in the arm. Not one to back down, even to a guy who was about 50 lbs. his senior, he hit me back. We smiled at each other, then jumped directly into a knock-down-drag-out, WWF-style wrestling match as our fellow runners looked on and rolled their eyes. Eventually, we called a stalemate, as he pushed me and my tractionless shoes across the floor, and I squeezed him till he turned red. We stood up, and I smiled a smile that said, "you know I was about to whoop your ass, right?" He read my smile accurately and replied aloud, "but that was pretty good though, right?"

My only fellow motorcyclist here in Boulder, TJ and I took a great ride one night after a Monday night run. We went out over Old Stage Rd. and out Left Hand Canyon, then back to Gunbarrel. There are few more beautiful places to ride motorcycles at night, and we both knew that as we nodded heads to each other before going our separate ways that night.

I was walking with one of my athletes at the Boulder Res a week ago as we finished up her run, and I heard a voice call "hey." I'd barely turned around before TJ went flying by me at a pace which I'll probably only ever dream about.

Yesterday, I arrived at work and was made aware that TJ had been in an awful accident and was currently in the ICU across the street. Time stopped. This just didn't seem possible. I, along with many others, went over to see him, and though I'm glad I did, I rather wish I hadn't. His body was being kept alive by machines at that point so that, in one last act of generosity, he could donate his organs to those in need. It's one of the most dreadful contrasts my eyes have ever made - seeing him so very vibrant, and then not so.

So sadly, I will never have the honor of calling TJ an old friend. I am so thankful, however, to be able to have called him a good one. My heart breaks at the thoughts of what I looked forward to seeing him become and achieve, and it goes out to those who knew him far better than I...especially his fiancée Adrienne, and his surviving immediate family.

TJ, I hope you were able to see all the people who came out in your honor last night. You have left an important, impactful legacy. You are inspiration to us all to live, and you will never be forgotten, brother. Our lives will be different without you, but more importantly, our lives are/will be different because of you.

4 comments:

  1. Beautifully written tribute. Sorry, friend.

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  2. I was astounded to hear that really really sac news... I met TJ the second monday run I went to and when you meet him you can't forget him... He's such a nice guy, so charismatic. You forgot to say that he was going to eat to hungry Toad after the run ;) I'm so sad for Adrienne. Terrible news...

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  3. So sorry to learn about your loss.

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