Tomorrow we are having a funeral for our friend Will.

I can’t really believe he is gone. In fact, I keep “seeing” him- on the corner by the library or walking down Queen Street. For a split second I think the last two weeks have been a dream, but of course they are not.

Will had been sick and knew things were getting worse. He asked me and Joanna to hold Power of Attorney for him last fall. At the time we didn’t have any idea he would be gone so soon. Or maybe I wanted to believe that Will, like so many of my friends in Parkdale, would surely keep beating the odds. Sometimes there is an invincibility to people who have already survived so much.

Will wasn’t connected to a single blood relative. Instead, he had a chosen family, many of whom he first met as Nurses and Community Workers. This little network, which I am humbled to say included me and Joanna, were home for Will. A small group of us shared the difficult privilege of being at Will’s side as he took his last breath. As wrong as it felt to be saying goodbye, it was exactly right that we could be there.

I am preparing to co-lead a workshop at a conference this Friday about partnership. I think that for me, one of Will’s legacies is that he was able to bring together people from a variety of places to work together on his behalf. His service will be held at Epiphany and St Mark Anglican and led by The Dale along with Elder Vern Harper (Will was Ojibwa). Friends from the Parkdale and South Riverdale Community Health Centres are doing the refreshments. A woman from Liebenzell Mission will manage the food and drink throughout the visitation. Many will serve as pallbearers. Partnership is a beautiful thing.

Will- you are missed, you are loved and I pray that now you are fully at home. I will be looking for you around the neighbourhood. I might not see you, but I will see your mark.

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