Friday, January 29, 2016

I lost a friend today.

I lost a friend today. We met four years ago at the Tustumena 200. He and his wife had volunteered to help with the race, and I was the official photographer. Little did we know that it was going to be -30 for most of the weekend (plus windchill. It was flippin cold) and so we were all going to get really close in a Yurt in the middle of nowhere. Bob was, at the time, a hobbyist photographer who was still getting used to the digital age. He could work computers, but he wasn't sure about the DSLRs.

Bob would go on to become a pretty popular photographer over the next few years. When he got into something he went all in. He photographed many sled dog races, sometimes while volunteering in other areas of the race, and shared his views of Alaska for all to see on Facebook.

But I knew him as a friend, not just as a photographer or a name on facebook. Bob was a take no crap kind of guy. He was a straight shooter who didn't mince words. You knew exactly where you stood with him and what he thought on any multitude of subjects. He lived life in a way most only dream of being able to. He didn't play games, he didn't keep toxic people near. If you were a friend, you knew it - and you earned it.

I'm having a hard time putting into worlds just what this big guy means to me. He and Jolene (aka "The Boss") have always been so awesome to me, and I treasure the times spent together - which were not nearly enough. Schedules being what they were, there were a lot of missed opportunities. I think I still owed him Dairy Queen.

Last month he treated me and Taylor Steele (up and coming Mushing Superstar currently helping train Mitch Seavey's yearlings) to St. Elias Pizza. We gabbed about sled dogs, past happenings and up coming events. Taylor is fresh out of high school with all of these dreams and as he listened he gave advice and more importantly encouragement and support. If Bob was in your corner, you always knew it. He'd challenge you and keep you going.

No one saw this coming, while he was a man on "borrowed time" by doctor's standards - no one I know ever doubted he'd kick cancer's butt. Getting the message this afternoon (while I was at work, and we all know how much I LOVE getting emotional in front of people, no doubt that'd amuse Bob) I just sat there staring at my phone in shock. I wanted it to be a cruel joke. One I could get upset with him about.

But it's not. And I don't know how I feel. I'm in shock. My heart breaks for Jolene, but I selfishly also feel sorry for myself. I lost a friend today. Cancer took him away. Cancer Sucks.

See Bob Parsons' photos by going to his gallery here.

No comments:

Post a Comment