The most heart-wrenching thing is for a parent to outlive a child. I witnessed my parents go through it and it pains me to think of what Peter Zezel's family is going through tonight.
It was one week and 10 years ago that the Zezel family mourned the death of a precious daughter, granddaughter, and niece - Jilliann, the child of Peter's sister Neda.
Today, they lost a son, brother, and uncle. I don't know their pain, but tonight I know mine. Peter's death has two consolations; his body no longer has to battle against itself, and his spirit, that kind and loving soul, will be reunited with his beloved niece. It comes at a steep price, his remaining niece and nephews, all the others in his life will go on without him.
Attending his hockey camp, everyone had a story of how he had gone out of the way for them, whether it was taking a friend's skates to be sharpened and bringing back a new pair, or looking after a child so you could get to work or school.
I referred to him as the Honest Ed of Toronto hockey and he'd jokingly chastise me, saying something along the lines of Honest Ed providing useful things.
Peter, luv, so did you. Think of how many kids you taught to skate, to stick handle. Think of how many women and girls you made smile over the years. Think of all the players who owned the faceoff circle after you showed them a few tips.
But the most useful thing you did for me was give me a friend, one I met waiting at hockey camp.
Today I wanted to visit you in the hospital, hug the family and friends at your side, and say my goodbyes.
Tonight, the memory of our last meeting is much nicer, no tubes, no machines, no medications. On the last day of March Break camp, I waited for you to finish a conversation with a friend. You looked at me and asked jokingly, "Will you be back in the summer?" I laughed, "Not without a hug." I got a little hug, "C'mon Pete! Arms that strong can do better!" I looked at you, saying, "I'm gonna miss you Pete." and you said "You'll get over it." "Not without another hug - it has to last until July."
I never thought it would have to last the rest of my life.
Your memory will.