Day 46. I got frantic text from my stepson to tell us that his very best friend, Josh, has passed away.
Josh was 35 years old. He and Jason were as close as brothers.
They were the last rebels in their crowd. Both bachelors, they lived life without commitments, cares, worries or constraints
When they got together, they lived at full throttle - both thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies - there was no extreme sport that was out of their radar - they really did live as though they were invincible.
Over the last year, I watched Jason slow down a bit. He stopped drinking as much, and never one for many recreational drugs, he stopped dabbling with magic mushrooms and weed.
He and Josh traveled together last winter. Jason is a commercial fisherman, so he works only six months of the year and Josh is (was) a helicopter pilot, working with a fire fighting unit in BC.
They went to South America - Nicaragua, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica - for about three months.
Jason lives to travel. He is a savvy, seasoned traveler, he wants to experience local people, customs, food - and he makes friends easily. Like his Dad, he has an engaging smile, and has this ability to stretch over to another table in a restaurant, interrupt the conversation, and by the end of the evening, have made new friends, and plans for the next day.
But, he never takes risks. The same man who will base jump from Half Dome Mountain in Yosemite, does not walk down dark alleys, frequent the shady part of town, or dress in flashy clothes. I have never worried about Jason while he has been on excursions.
This time was different. It was the first time that Jason and Josh had traveled for any length of time. They had planned this trip for their whole adult life, and finally the plans became reality.
Within a week Jason was texting and facebooking us. Josh had gone on a wild bender - in Nicaragua. He had been lured out of a bar by a prostitute, had been drinking and doing lines of coke, and was missing by the time that Jason got to the bar.
After 24 hours he turned up. The girl (and accomplice) had knocked him out, stolen his hotel key and ransacked the hotel room - all his credit cards had gone, passport, everything.
Jason was both relieved to see Josh alive, and furious with him for being so stupid. They carried on their trip, in the hope that Josh had learned his lesson, but sadly not. After another two weeks of full on drinking, drug taking and partying with prostitutes (Josh), Jason finally lost his temper when Josh was drunk and obnoxious to a waiter in a restaurant.
Jason took off for a month on his own. At the end of the trip, he met up with Josh again, and they patched up their differences, but it was never the same.
Jason didn't want the wild life any more. He didn't (doesn't) want to get an office job, and have two weeks by the seaside as his annual holiday, but he has started to value his life. His risks are a little more calculated, he acknowledges his own mortality.
Today he is broken hearted. And there are no words that I or anyone can say that will comfort him.
He asked me to find photos of Josh to send to the family for the memorial service on Saturday. Jason is flying home to attend.
There are many pictures of Jason and Josh, but this one stands out.