Eulogy for Brad Whalen-Strauss

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While trying to figure out how to put this together, I looked up advice online and read things like “don’t mention anything negative” and “use specific examples of good things”. But since this is about Brad, this wasn’t much help because of what a truly remarkable person he is; in all my time knowing him, he was virtually never negative, and talking specifically about how he’s great would fill a book. So instead, I’ll try to summarize that book.

I’m fortunate to be able to say I’ve known Brad for seven years. I’ll never forget him singing Sabotage by The Beastie Boys when we met at the start of our university career. During that first year I mainly knew him as the quirky guy with a big smile, amazingly deep voice and a knack for suddenly appearing and disappearing, but I was lucky enough to wind up in a house with him in our second year. There, we soon started talking about our interests, passions and pursuits, but it was one all-nighter in our third year when we truly connected and I realized I had made a friend like no other.

In our time together, Brad and I have had an ocean’s worth of beautiful experiences. Our long conversations about everything and nothing, wandering the city streets, going for ill-prepared nature walks, working on his aunt’s garden, late nights at the Trent University newspaper, playing video games, having him as a radio guest and the hilarious facial expressions he would make when brushing his teeth are just drops in that vast ocean.

Brad has helped me through some of the hardest things I’ve been through in my life. He was always there to listen to my problems and provide company, and never made me feel like a burden or nuisance. I knew that if I ever needed someone to be there, I could count on him. No matter what he was dealing with in his own life, he would make the effort, and he was like this with everyone he knew.

His love of various forms of art—music, acting, writing, to name a few—is the mark of a gentle and introspective soul. His choice to pursue environmental studies and apply them to teaching children, so that future generations could appreciate and protect the natural world, shows both compassion for all forms of life and a desire to make the world a better place for others.

There aren’t enough words to name all of the things that make him fantastic. I’m beyond thankful that in this wide, wide world, Brad’s path happened to cross mine and our lives become part of one another’s.

I’ve avoided the past tense here because I believe that despite Brad’s passing, he is not gone. Before, he gave us all the gift of the wonderful time we each could share with him. Now, it’s all of our duty to keep him alive by cherishing the memories of those times and honouring his legacy.

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So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.

-Franz Kafka