“We each of us mourn and grieve the holes our loved ones leave in our lives when they go,” I wrote to my friend yesterday. “When someone dies unexpectedly, that hole doesn’t have soft edges and neatly hemmed openings. It’s a vicious, torn-open wound. The bigger the personality, the bigger the void. Particularly for someone who brought so much joy to so many people. ESPECIALLY someone so young. He’s one of us. It’s unthinkable.”
I got a text yesterday that a friend had passed away. A young friend. A friend who’d just started his artists’ journey. He’s written three novels and a memoir, and he had so many more stories to tell. It’s unthinkable.
Wes and I first met shortly after he published Dead Rock Stars, a novel about a man who returns to small town Saskatchewan to tie up loose ends and discovers passion and love along the way. It was the first small-arr romance novel I’d enjoyed, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Wes for my radio show. He was a brilliant, engaging, fun guest, who wrote lovely, engaging, fun books.
He’s one of those people who, when you told him you were a writer, would get so excited about your art that you left the meeting feeling like a star. For his own work, he knew he had stories to tell, and, simply, he told them.
I know him as a publisher and a writer, and as a friend. We share many interests – science fiction, comics and superheroes, writing, publishing, broadcasting (Wes hosted a television show in Saskatoon where he talked to writers and book people!), teaching, learning, and justice and equality for LGBT people. It seemed like nothing for him to coax a smile out of anyone. To make everyone he talked to believe in themselves. That’s no easy task.
It is unthinkable that he has left so many stories untold. He will be dearly missed. If you didn’t know him, read him.
Dead Rock Stars – the only book I’ve ever read that was its own soundtrack. Also the book that made me realize I kind of really dig gay romance stories.
Baggage – about a handful of people who work in downtown Saskatoon, their intimacies and betrayals, and truth and lies.
Cherry Blossoms – a novel about starting over, reinventing, and taking chances.
Wes Side Story – A memoir Wes wrote about his own experience, told with all the laughter you would expect from Wes, and despite shyness, trepidation, and soul-searching, confidence (well-deserved) in his own art form.
I was hoping to see Wes a few weeks from now. We didn’t have enough time, Wes. There was never enough time.