In Tribute to My Friend, Colin Burritt.
I know I usually try to make this blog at least semi-entertaining (I think it is, anyways), but do forgive me if I take a variance off the standard course this time to blog about the biggest thing on my mind these days. All my little “witty observations” (are they witty?) don’t seem to hold a candle to what’s been on my mind lately. It may not be the funniest or thought-provoking blog I’ve written, but bear with me, I at least have to write it for my own therapeutic value.
As a walk-on rookie for the Briercrest Clippers college hockey team in 2002, I was fortunate enough to make some good and lasting friendships with some of the older players on our team. One of them was a guy named Colin Burritt, affectionately (and perhaps ironically) known as “The Rat”. Whereas a lot of veterans can make the existence of a rookie quite miserable, our team was a lot different in that aspect, and Colin was one of the guys that made that happen. Don’t get me wrong, there was fun to be had at our expense, but the kind where you don’t end up hating your oppressors afterwards (I think only hockey guys will understand this). He was a guy that made me feel comfortable, valued, and respected on the team, and in life.
Him and his now-wife Missy were an instrumental element in my now-wife and I ever getting past a salutation phase. We were fortunate enough to attend their wedding, and they have been inspirational models of how a married couple should operate. They’re two people that after seeing them together for 5 minutes, you know were soulmates destined to find each other from the start. They’ve got two young boys, and are awesome parents. Ever since college, Colin has been an honest, hard-working man, loving and providing for his family.
Beyond those avenues, Colin is a strong man of God. He whole-heartedly and devotedly walks with God in the Christian faith every day of his life, including God in every aspect of his being. Not that he’s ever presented himself this way, but in terms of his faith, he’s one of those people that Christians like me could only aspire to be like.
In 2009, after nearly completing police training in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Colin got sick, and was eventually diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer. Fighting for almost a year while in and out of hospital and away from his family, Colin beat it and was cleared 100% of any cancer. It was an absolute answer to prayer, and some might say a miracle. A while after being sent home, there were follow-up appointments, and it was discovered that the cancer had returned, this time in his brain and spinal fluid. After more aggressive treatment, Colin was again sent home, but this time because the doctors could no longer do anything to help, and would be unable to remove the cancer. As of this writing, Colin is still at home with his loving wife, kids, and family, living out the rest of his remaining days.
Obviously, there are people closer to him that are having a hard time with this (that’s an understatement, I know), but as a friend, I am as well. Everyone hears about how cancer affects other people, but it always hurts more when it’s someone you know. I’ve lost three people in my family to various forms of cancer. Colin is my first friend who has faced it. It’s just hard to deal with – what to think and say, how to act, what’s appropriate, etc. After so many people have prayed for so long for him to be healed, and to even have him restored for a time, for him to be facing this situation seems utterly unfair. I mean, no man should ever have to plan his own funeral and say goodbye to his wife and children, right? Well, Colin is.
You couldn’t convince them of any wrong-doing though; they remain strong – if not stronger than ever – in their faith. Of course it’s the source of a lot of tears and sadness on one hand, but on the other there’s an unwavering belief in Colin’s pending journey to heaven, and that he’ll soon meet our Creator; this in addition to cherishing every available moment he has with his family. When it comes to Christianity, these two are the real deal. How many of you could say that they would feel that kind of peace in their last days? I know I’d have a hard time with it, and I believe in God as well.
Where a lot of people might feel justified in blaming and being angry at God for either giving him, or not healing his cancer, they have an unparalleled peace about it. I really wish God would take away his cancer, to be honest. It breaks my heart a little more each time I read about how his condition deteriorates; especially knowing there’s nothing I can do to help. It just seems like another case of bad things happening to good people; but I think we have to have faith in God that there is something better for Colin just over the horizon – something that most of us really can’t fully comprehend. I know they do.
As a Christian, husband, father, man, and a friend, Colin has inspired me to be better. I hope that I can operate on that level myself someday. Scroll through some of the comments on their blog ( http://go-team-burritt.blogspot.com/ ), and you’ll soon see that his battle has touched many, many others in much the same way. There are already talks of scholarships, tournaments, and trophies being named after him; I hope they all come to fruition, because his legacy is worthy of them all and more.
Colin, if you happen to read this, I love you, and I am deeply blessed to have met you; I cherish our friendship. I know I will see you again.
The Burritt’s gave away wristbands some time ago, with the following verse imprinted on it:
“ The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want… he restores my soul. He guides me… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear not, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23 (Paraphrased)