What does it mean to be iconic? We meet many people on the path of life. Most are casual collisions that mean very little at the time and leave no lasting impression. These are easy to forget, A special few souls come into our orbits and we are changed forever. When they leave this earth, the best part of them stays with us until we leave this earth. We are their legacy. We never forget.
It's been twenty years since I received the call, "Karl Nagy's been killed". My best friend hadn't just died. Something with apparent ill intent–a large rock–had snatched the life from him. And me, and from a great many others who counted the Canmore mountain guide as a dear friend, gracious mentor and sturdy partner; and for the woman left behind, a too-soon departed soul mate.
Vacantly, distantly or as up close and personal as anyone can get to a person called to the high places, none of us who knew him remained unaltered for having known him. People came from all corners to pay these respects to their fallen hero. The venue held five hundred souls. There were still people outside who couldn't get in when I commenced the celebration of his life. I called forth a procession of people to testify to the contributions he had made to their lives. Safe. Humble. Twisted. He brought them all home more alive.
I began my public speaking career with that eulogy, terrified, but with my fear tempered by him in his absence as it often was in his presence. I felt him with me before I took the stage to lead the service. And it would not be the last time I would invoke his presence. To this day it's rare that a trip anywhere to the mountains doesn't trigger a warm memory of a cold adventure.
Iconic people leave a positive residue.
And I am not alone in my sadness all these years later. His bride spent this early Autumn evening under the dim candle light remembering the happiest days of her life. I still hate that he's gone and this summer has been the worst. With nature on fire, society in fragments, our collective finances stretched thin, my own sense of purpose has been lost amidst the clouds of my own path and the community around me. I yearn for my lost friend. The demons of depression have leaked through the cracks of a carefully built cage .
Karl Konrad Nagy with Inka
I am a speaker and so I have something to say, even as my fear works to keep me off the stage. I am a writer and so I have something to share, even as my self-doubt works to keep my voice silent. But then I feel him calling me back into the light. And so I am here once again.
Your legacy is only the love you leave behind when you're gone.
Karl Nagy lived just shy of 37 years, but he managed to touch a great many people before passing through. We are each, as we felt his impact on us, improved. If you never knew him, I hope a piece of his soul passes to you on this day from me. You would have liked him and you would be better than when he first found you.
Today I write for my friends: those passed, those present and those yet to come. Our friends live at the boundaries between joy and depression, self-expression and danger. This year I shared loss of an old one with some new ones. They gave a toast to a man they never met, except through me and long before they knew his name: "To Karl": at One in the afternoon on August 29th. I don't know when I'll write again. I hope soon. You'll be the first know.