On this Memorial Day, give thanks to those who have served our country, past, present and future.
This Memorial Day is a lot more somber for me, some of my close friends, and many friends around us. Our dear friend Bernie passed away suddenly on Friday morning, and we've all been in an unshakeable state of shock since.
I met Bernie while working at Niketown together almost a decade ago. Niketown was my college life; I spent more time there than I did on campus. It paid the bills, but it also gave me a second family full of the most colorful and unforgettable people I still care deeply for today. Bernie was no exception. In our Nike family, Bernie was our jokester. He was impossible to miss for how short he was; what he lacked in height, he sure made up for in his wildly off-color jokes and loud, boisterous laugh. Man I'll miss that laugh. Whether he meant to or not, he made his presence known wherever he was. From his Nike coworkers to the people he met at nightclubs, no one was safe from his jokes and no matter how bad of a day you were having, you had to crack a smile when he was around. It was harder not to!
I remember the first time he told me he was going to be a dad, alongside a beautiful girl named Val. He was nervous but so, so excited to be a dad. Bernie was so popular, they had their baby shower at The War Room, which was the club everyone kicked it at back in the day. The day Noah came into the world, Bernie's life changed forever. He became the most devoted dad you'd ever meet, focusing damn near all of his efforts on creating the best life possible for his son. Noah and Bernie were - are - best of friends. Parenthood is tough, but as Noah's grown, Bernie and Val have made sure he's surrounded by love and positivity. I don't think I've ever seen Noah without a big grin on his face.
Bernie was just getting settled back in Seattle after being in Hawaii for a bit. We didn't see him much, but that didn't matter. Every time was just like the last; full of laughs, reminiscing about all the trouble we've gotten in and looking forward to a bright future. He was restoring an old sour apple green VW bug that's every bit as loud and colorful as he was. He wanted to get back into jiu-jitsu and get some rolling in with my boyfriend. Ugh. I know this sounds cliche, but in this moment I have to wonder why life is so unfair. Why Bernie? Why so young?
This young father was such a great friend to everyone he met. He leaves behind a son. His devastated parents, band of brothers and extended family. A heartbroken girlfriend. An entire city or three stunned and in disbelief. What do we do now?
I'm not sure that it's sunken in for me yet. I can't comprehend not running into him at a party, like we haven't seen each other for awhile but will pick right back up as if it was yesterday. We are celebrating his life this week, and I know I'll find solace surrounded by all the people whose lives he lit up just as brightly as he did mine. Thank you Bernie. Take care of my Meatball up there. Love you.