Farewell To A Friend
The news of Mike Campbell's passing came on Friday.
Since then, I have been reading the many tributes and memorials to Mike being posted on Scuttlebutt, but I still feel an unquenchable need for more - as if reading them will somehow extend Mike's presence and defer my own acceptance of so great a loss.
Mike was a rare gift, a mentor, a fellow sailor, a friend, and I will miss him greatly. How many people's lives have been enriched by knowing Mike and Victoria? Countless, I'm sure. There simply may not be enough tributes for such a man.
My heart goes out to Victoria now, in her all-encompassing loss. I am grateful for having known them both, and for having been a part of the wonderful world of people, boats, and gracious hospitality that Mike and Victoria so generously shared.
Ironically, Mike's endgame with cancer happened the same weekend as the 17th annual Linda Elias Memorial One Design Regatta hosted by Mike's yacht club, Long Beach Yacht Club. 17 years ago, Linda lost her own battle with cancer.
Linda would be pleased to know that the regatta has not only continued, but has thrived. This year every available boat in Long Beach Yacht Club's Catalina-37 fleet was filled. There were more than 100 women racing on the water - one team from as far as Puerto Vallarta. It was a fine tribute to another departed sailing friend.
Coming across a pair of seals just beyond the weather mark - impossibly perched at least six feet out of the water atop the enormous steel rudder of an anchored cargo ship- I couldn't help but wonder if Linda and Mike weren't with us this weekend afterall, enjoying a perfect spectating spot overlooking the weather mark.
For now, I will enjoy every moment on the water that I can. I expect I will be thinking of you, Mike, whenever I feel the wind in my face, the bite of a line in my hands, and the sound of the ocean on a long beat to weather. I will think of you at unexpected times too - when I'm on a quiet pre-dawn run in my worn-out, but still prized Victoria crew shirt, or when I open the trunk to grab a few equally worn-out Trader Joe's bags, to recycle just one more time. Certainly I will think of you every time I meet up with someone else who counted you as a friend - which, I imagine, could be quite often.
And one day, I hope to be in your good company again; to share a few favorite stories and even more laughs, on an excellent voyage that simply has no final port of call.
Until then, thank you for everything and farewell, my friend.
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