“I’m just a fat guy who rides a Harley.”
I looked directly at Courtney when he said that to me during a company picnic and chuckled. I laughed not because I agreed with him but because I thought it was humorous that he felt the need to describe himself that way.
Size, shape, age, tatts, earrings, hair color. They don’t matter to me. In all honesty, I just looked at him as a co-worker who I used to talk MMA with occasionally.
Until mid-July … when he tragically passed away.
My path didn’t cross much with Courtney’s until we moved to a new office in Anaheim. He was in an area that I had to pass to get to my office, and I noticed that he seemed to have that Milwaukee Brewers hat and set of headphones on almost every day.
He’d sorta raise his eyebrow and slightly smile when I walked by, but he wouldn’t look at me. That was just his way of saying hi, and I was cool with that. He was responsible for two magazines, and time flies when you’re on deadline. He didn’t need to take away from that for me.
One day I ran into him in the lobby when he was wearing his usual attire.
“So, you’re a baseball fan?”
“That’s a Milwaukee Brewers hat.”
“Nah. It’s just a hat.”
“I am pretty sure that M stands for Milwaukee,” I said, as he turned from the mailboxes and headed back to his desk, zeroed in on more deadlines.
A TEAR IN MY EYE
It was about 9 on a Friday morning, and I was locked on a few deadlines myself when I got the following e-mail: “With a tear in my eye, I’m writing to inform you that Courtney Halowell passed away in his sleep.”
I could not believe the notification from our human resources department. I stared at the screen in disbelief. My mind immediately flashed back to the company picnic and the conversation I had with Courtney. Then I thought about all the times we briefly talked MMA.
And that’s when it hit me like an 8-foot wave at high tide. Regret. Why didn’t I talk to him more? Why didn’t I take just a few minutes to get his thoughts on GSP or Anderson or Tito or the weather or anything?
My emotions were scattered. I was angry at myself, shocked by the loss, confused why he had to leave us so young, tearful that his parents had to experience the devastation.
Gloriously, the sun rose the next day, so I paused for just a second. I reflected on what I have, who is in my life and how lucky I am to be here … because I can enjoy the day, the sun, the challenge my job presents, a simple meal, MMA.
There are a lot of expensive things in life, but none is costlier than regret. So, talk to your MMA brothers. Find out how they got into the sport, why they love it or who they think is going to win the next title fight. And do it today—for tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Live strong. Courtney Halowell most certainly did.