“I’ve learned” — Remembering Raymond Taavel, one year later

Raymond's life and work touched countless people in this city and across Canada. Since his death, his face has become a symbol of LGBTQ pride, as this poster (left), seen throughout town, shows. On the right is the cover of today's Halifax edition of the Metro newspaper.

A year ago today, we came in to work to the news that our dear friend and co-worker Raymond Taavel had been murdered in a street altercation here in Halifax. By all accounts, he died much as he’d lived: seeking to help create peace between others, in this case, intervening to protect someone who was being attacked. That was Raym, the compassionate activist who always strove to bring people together.

We marked the anniversary of Raymond’s passing here in the Shambhala Sun office yesterday afternoon with a small gathering of staff and friends. Among these was Raymond’s longtime friend, roommate, and partner, Darren Lewis. We sat and listened to a section of Darren’s eulogy given at the funeral last year, and composed in part by Raymond himself, called “I’ve Learned.” How much of it was Raymond’s actual wording and how much of it was collected by Raym from other sources isn’t easy to determine, but either way, the list is still pure Raymond. We share it here so that you too might get the benefit of learning from one of the most decent people we could have the pleasure to work and laugh with.

I’ve learned that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I’ve learned that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you can’t.

I’ve learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I’ve learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I’ve learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.

I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I’ve learned that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I’ve learned that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I’ve learned that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you back up.

I’ve learned that sometimes when I am angry, I have the right to be angry, but it doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.

I’ve learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over long distances. Same goes for true love.

I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

[Next came a section composed by Darren in response:]

And now, to my Raymond, these are some of the things I have learned because of you:

I’ve learned that people you love can be taken in an instant, but love cannot.

I’ve learned that even though you will never walk in again and say, “Honey I’m Home,” you’ll always have a home with me.

I’ve learned that missing you is the most painful thing I have ever felt.

I’ve learned that when you love someone, you need to tell them as often as you can.

I’ve learned that when you wanted to hug me all the time, I should have been more inviting.

I’ve learned that you helped make me the man I am today.

I’ve learned that just because I couldn’t love you the way you wanted me to, it doesn’t mean I didn’t love you with all that I had.

We hope you’ll want to read more about Raymond. Here’s our previous coverage:

A Tragic Loss here in Halifax (April 17, 2012)

Tributes to Raymond Taavel (April 18, 2012)

Tributes continue as NS legislature joins in remembering Raymond Taavel (April 19, 2012)

Reflections of Raymond (July 27, 2012)

Suddenly and Without Warning (Editorial by Melvin McLeod, Shambhala Sun, July 2012 issue)