Last night, at about 1700 Eastern time, Vicki died. Pancreatic cancer. A remarkably painful way to go. She'd had warning and I hear she was at peace with it... still. Vicki was one of the good people and one of the nice people. A serious athlete, a serious karateka, I didn't believe her when she said she was a grandmother.
It's weird to think that I only met her in person twice. Both times on Cape Cod, both times so busy, both of us, with teaching and learning and making friends. I liked her. She wasn't afraid to disagree or to learn, and she could disagree and accept, and that's rare. On some subjects those are the only people you can really talk to.
So that is what I will remember of her: how comfortable everyone felt in her presence.
Tim died in December. Cancer again. He was 32, I think, or 33. He didn't know about the cancer, just dropped dead, an aneurysm or embolism or some damn thing. At autopsy his body was eaten up with cancer. For years, probably, he had been shrugging off pain that would have destroyed a lesser man, assuming that all the aches and pains and twinges were just mild training injuries.
I only met Tim twice in person as well. It seems like more. The first, though he hardly knew me at all, he showed up at one of my seminars with his bulletman suit. That was a great day. Tim was a big part of making it great.
Months later, we got together at an invitational BBQ, and I had an awesome idea, a Dream Team of trainers. Tim was a big part of that concept.
There was M, a well known person in the field who had been at the edge of all of our worlds and could talk through the differences in perception.
There was C, a former high-end bad guy working his ass off for the sake of his family to stay on the side of the angels.
T, quiet and unassuming, who was THE top bouncer in a rough market. Rarely have I met someone I respected so much right off.
Me, of course.
And Tim. Tim was in some ways the odd man out. He wasn't just someone who had always been a good guy, he'd always been nice as well. He wasn't a thug on either side of the law. He was a well-respected martial artist, an excellent teacher and the best actor in a suit I've yet seen (and acting when your face is covered with a helmet is a neat trick.)
But even as odd-man out, he had earned all of our respect. He went toe-to-toe with the reformed bad guy (and I may have forgotten to mention that C is of respectable size and shows off by bicep-curling vans). He could play different criminal subtypes with great nuance. He knew what scenario training was for and he let each participant make themselves better. He understood the complexity of the subject and the non-prescriptive nature of open-ended training.
He not only earned our respect but in a few short meetings (two, in my case) he impressed us.
And now he's dead. Vicki is dead.
Don't get your panties in a twist and try to be sympathetic. Death doesn't have the same weight for me as it seems to for others. Nothing has happened that won't happen to me in time. It's not a big deal.
The regrets are simpler: Tim would have taken the RBSD movement to an entirely new level. Vicki every day showed that grandmas can kick ass. The world lost something. That's okay, the world loses something every second. It's still here.
The personal regrets- that I'll never see the interactions of the full Dream Team. (I actually feel sorry for whoever we choose to replace Tim, it would feel like an understudy for Marlon Brando). That I'll never again sit down with Vicki for a beer. I'll never again put on my suit and brawl with Tim and see if the students break us up or not. Never feel how hard Vicki can punch in a ground fight.