Loss and Grief

Dear Ren,

We may not have been close friends, or even friends. We were more like acquaintances. We usually speak over the phone, with me asking you if there are any availability on your tours, and you telling me super enthusiastically to “lock it in!”. Over the past 3 winters, our most recent phone conversations consisted of that. This winter, around Xmas/NY, after calling you for tour availabilities, you said that we should catch up soon, with Hay and Tom. And I said “yes, for sure! Once it gets less busy, we should all meet for a drink!” I thought I had until March/April to follow through. But now you are gone.

I remember when I first came to Niseko and was a little nobody. Meeting all the “locals” were extremely intimidating, but you were very friendly and made me feel included in conversations. This made me realize what a big heart you had.

I must apologize for the last two time you entrusted Woodley in my care. I love Woodley to bits! The first time, he wasn’t allowed inside my rental place and had to stay with my neighbour, I was with him until bedtime and they took excellent care of him! The second time, I thought I could make it up to you as it was a last minute request from you. But my bunny and Woodley didn’t get along and I had to put him up in our staff lodge for 2 nights. Although our crew took wonderful care of Woodles, I felt like I let you down. I having my own pet, I cannot be more apologetic for this.

I’ve never experienced death outside of an aging relative before. I most certainly have never experienced death of a life taken too soon. My body is in shock from the news I heard this afternoon. I was informed that “a Sam” was caught in an avalanche, and I thought “Nah, it’s not Ren”. Not more than 2 hours after this, I learnt it was you. I couldn’t stop shaking and can’t stop shaking. We are not close, nor are we really friends, but Niseko has lost a great heart today. You were a legand here, and your legacy will live on. Rest in peace that although the town grieves for you, your family is also our family. Your boy will grow up knowing you are a legend, not just of Niseko, but just an overall awesome human being; And the town will always have your lady’s back.

I am honoured to have met you, and for you to have been part of my life in Niseko. Niseko lost a great man today, but your soul and memory will always be here. You and your great Kiwi laughter will be, and are, incredibly missed. Your enthusiasm for adventure will always live on. Tomorrow, we will shred in your memory.


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