I just arrived home from a celebration of my friend Bill Birch’s life. He died in the last week of complications from the debilitating disease scleroderma. It was wonderful to see that there were so many people who came to share this special occasion with Bill’s family and friends. Bill touched many people in many positive ways during his life. As his daughter Lisa commented, Bill did more good for others in the last six years of his life than many of us do in a lifetime. Among other things, thanks to Bill, there is now an annual run to raise funds for this crippling disease.
There were of course the usual photographs that one often sees at memorials, but something that I did not expect, was just how much I would enjoy gazing at these visual records of his life. Over the years Bill has regaled me with many stories of his escapades and experiences, but seeing actual photos of some of these experiences somehow brought them to life for me, and, as I found myself smiling through the tears, brought him alive. It kind of felt like he was standing there with me. Seeing igloos lit up against the night sky with nothing but white as far as the eye could see. Wow!
Not only were there photos of his life, but one side of the room was lined with many examples of his artwork. To browse at this wonderful expression of a life well lived as his music played in the background, was, well, there are no words. Buddhist, philanthropist, artist, musician, these are terms that only begin to describe Bill. Bill didn’t just live his life, he engaged with it. Fully. And with true compassion for others. Did the fact that he lived the last few years being fed through a tube and having to navigate around in a wheelchair stop him. Nope. Just run that one by the Scleroderma Society if you want proof.
Well, I guess that is about it, except for that I probably should mention that Bill was humble and would probably have had issues with me singing his praises in this way, but I guess that it is just something that I had to do. Thank you Bill for sharing your life with us all. For being an example to us all. May you rest in peace my friend. (22/11/2014)