Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mr. Byrne, Tim,

To start, I'd like to express my deepest condolences through what has to be the hardest of times. Being privileged enough to have been a friend to Hilton, since his first days as a skateboarder in York Region, seeing these events unfold have left me psychologically battered and emotionally void.

Having been a part of Ontario Longboarding for the past 6 years, I was consumed by the culture that was being born before my very eyes. I began attending sessions constantly, seeing the family that was forming day to day. Held grassroots events, to help bring individuals together into our community. Briefly wrote for Concrete Wave, as a means of showcasing further the amazing things Skateboarding has to offer.

In this time, I feel I've made some true friends. Some of which, don't extend further into my daily life than posts on the forum, recently, even that has faded. Others, however, I can't say the same for. A special few, like Hilton, I hold much closer to my heart.

Having been one of the first longboarders in this region, I was lucky enough to find a group of friends in Hilton, Chris, Albert, Andre, Stephan, Danny and Drew. In the beginning, I taught each one of them everything I had under my belt. Be it safety, technique, control, or just plain common sense that doesn't seem so common to a new skater. I got to watch those boys grow into young men, progressing further, growing faster. Each gaining more distinct personalities on and off their boards. I'm lucky to have been there to see it, to help bring them all together and to do whatever I could to keep their heads on straight.

Since those days, I've grown away from the community a little bit, as my personal life has taken some rough turns. I've stopped holding my events, don't write anymore and I couldn't have attended more than three sessions this year. But still, to this day, Hilton stands out strongly from the rest.

He'd always remained humble, under any circumstance. Taking everything with open ears and an open mind. Never straying from his always calculated comfort level, even while learning new things. He's a smart young man, through and through. One of the sparse few I truly felt confident riding alongside, knowing neither of us would ever be at risk on account of the others' foolish mistakes.

For all these things? Hilton Byrne has my unfaltering respect and admiration.

Having been a part of this community so long, the events as of late have shaken me to my very core. In my youth, I lost a friendly tragically to gun violence, which was naturally heart wrenching. But now, to have lost another not to some brazen act of psychotic machismo, but in the midst of one his strongest passions? My mind is writhing. I've been brought to question my morales, my motives and my reasoning for doing the dangerous things that I do. Every time my feet touch down on a board I've likely ridden for years before, it feels foreign. Brand new, and terrifying all over again. This is a feeling I should have never lost in the first place.

We met briefly outside your hotel that rainy "OldSkool" night session when we'd arrived en masse to sign his tribute board. The last words you said to us sent a chill down my spine and set off a spark of realization in the back of my mind. You're right.

"It's okay to be afraid."

Since then, I've been reminding myself every moment on board. Don't be stupid. Reckless is one thing, but stupid isn't meant for this sport. I've been dwelling over a way to keep this close and fresh in my mind, and I've found my way.

Which brings me to the real reason for this e-mail, as all of the praise and backstory is better saved for face-to-face.

I'd like to get Hilton's name tattooed onto me. In tribute to a friend and a simple reminder that life and the lives around us are truly priceless. Nothing disrespectful or in poor taste. Just a simple script, likely over my heart, bearing Hilton's name. If you have no problems with that idea? Knowing full well the cultures accepted into the longboard community, I'd like to suggest some form of "group tattoo". Whereas, at the very least, the few who opt for it would have the means of sharing that bond with each other. Adding to Hilton's memory in our own way. Off hand I can name several who would be honored with the opportunity.

I don't exactly propose that a tattoo artist is present at the Wake, though the skater in me screams "Rad!". Barring your approval, I'd like to arrange a session in the near future at one of the local shops for a group to assemble and present our permanent homage. Heck, if you'd like, I may even be able to arrange an artist for the wake by Friday. I'm not sure what the health and safety regulations are for tattooing out-of-shop, but I have no problem fielding all the details over the next few days.

I understand this is an extremely off the wall idea, and I plan to respect your wishes fully. So if this doesn't sit well with you and your loved ones, please, all you have to say is "No." Don't feel the need to be cordial, or give ANY explanation. However if the thought sends a smile to your face, maybe lightens your heart a little, any and all feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, for your time, and allowing us to know your incredible son.

- N.

1 comment:

  1. Although I am reading this after the Celebration of Hiltons young life, I would like to comment. I think it is a gracious and fabulous thing your wanting to do.The most you can hounour someone is by always keeping thier memory alive, and by tatooing Hiltons name on you , you would be doing just that.I dont know Tims feelings on this but I for one would love to tell you GO FOR IT!!Hounour your friend in anyway you wish.Very touching.Sorry spelling