The last entry was one of great sadness, of the death of a friend. This one is of great Joy and Happiness. In slightly over two weeks, my best friend is getting married.
I have known Michael since around 1991 or 1992. He was a student of the piano teacher who was teaching in the same building I was. On occasion, I would drop in to use the piano teacher's photocopier and eventually met most of his students. One evening, I recognized Mike at a coffee shop and sat with him for a coffee and cigarette. A couple of years later, Mike was in University and he and his classmates would all be at the coffee shop during the evenings when I'd stop in on my way home from teaching.
Mike's interests were far beyond the 'normal' university student, and his maturity, knowledge and wisdom exceeded even most of his professors! Having many of the same interests, our friendship deepened, even though I am closer in age to his parents.
From 1994 to 1999 we were almost always off hiking, camping, or chilling in a coffee shop together. In '97, he became musical director for the University's theatrical production of "The Wizard of Oz" and asked me to play drums in the band. I know now what a big step that was for him. I had been a 'professional' musician since he was an infant and he hadn't yet begun to play professionally. I accepted since I had been mostly teaching for a number of years and thought it would be interesting to perform again. The added bonus of being beneath the stage and therefore out of sight from the audience made it even more fun. That summer we worked together in a dinner theater production that lasted three months total, rehearsals included. Our afternoon coffees at a local cafe' kept us both sane.
In 1998, I was asked to work in a local band with national aspirations, and when asked if I knew a piano player, quickly suggested Mike.
Mike and I worked well together onstage and spent much time together exploring the towns in which we were playing. After one rather demanding tour in the summer of 1999, Mike began to think of returning to University to continue his education and by the beginning of the year 2000, he had moved to Ottawa and began studying as well as working as a choir director and sales manager in a music store.
I did not see Mike much after that. We kept in touch via e-mail and whenever he was home for a visit in the summer, we'd get together and spend a few hours, maybe even a couple of days together.
Then, one magical beautiful day he introduced me to Claire. She was more lovely than an ocean sunrise, more radiant than the Northern Lights in autumn, and oh, her smile!
And HIS smile!
My dearest friend had found his true love. Not many years passed until one day he arrived at my door to spend some time. The lovely Claire had chosen to stay with his parents, to allow two old friends some time alone. In my back yard with our coffee, he turned serious and said, almost reverently,
"Jones, I'm going to ask Claire to marry me."
I had seen Mike through at least four relationships, maybe more, since we'd met. Some were disastrous, others just didn't work out. But this relationship... This time it was special. I knew when I met Claire that she, if anyone, would be the one to bring my friend Ultimate Happiness.
Michael and Claire will be married in her hometown, Paris France, on May the 16th 2009. I will be unable to attend as time and budget have both conspired to keep me in Canada. However, my heart will be with them both as they openly and publicly state their commitment to share their lives together forever.
Michael and Claire, you are two very wonderful people who are both VERY important to me. Look after each other, and come visit when you're back in this part of the world.
I love you both.