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from Sapna Dayal

I met Paul when I first moved to Vancouver from Brazil.  Finding myself back in Canada but in a new city that I was hoping to call home, I was homesick for the culture of Carnival, beaches, samba and football that I’d grown to love.  A friend of my sister’s had just started playing with a Brazilian percussion ensemble called “Sambata” and he suggested that I join him for a rehearsal.  It was there that I was first introduced to Paul.

I remember it so well.  His smile was massive and as he reached forward to shake my hand, his forehead crinkled just slightly with the lift of his brow.  His warmth was evident in his eyes. I really did know instantly that Paul and I were destined to meet and become friends.  We exchanged only a few words, but I was immediately taken by his enduring accent (or was it I with the accent? oh never mind that!).

The friend that brought me along to the rehearsal was getting ready to leave Vancouver for an extended period of time. Prior to his departure I’d expressed my need to meet some friends here in Vancouver and asked that he do me one small favour, that being to talk to Paul and ask him to give me a call.  And to my great delight, without hesitation Paul phoned me the following weekend.

Long walks in Lynn Canyon and around the sea wall gave us ample time to get to know each other, he making sure that I “liked to party” and I making sure that he was actually happy to be in nature hiking.  It was a great fit as were his “rambles” a perfect match to my keen interest in his many stories about his family and his early days growing up in England, his period of transition when he first moved to Windsor, his days in Toronto, his experiences as a musician on the road and his love for all of his mates.  I’d never met anyone like Lolly and I was just amazed at his joyful outlook on life.

Over the next few years our friendship continued to grow and evolve. Our common interests in spirituality, writing and music and our unconditional care and love for one another naturally deepened our relationship.  In the spring of 2004 we, as Lolly liked to put it, “started to give each other signals”.   I think what he meant was that we started to flirt with each other.  He was constantly pointing out my flirtatious gestures; twirling my hair at the dinner table, playing footsies at every given opportunity, wearing slinky tank tops in his company, phoning him immediately after parting with him to let him know how much fun I’d had, etc.  I assured him that this was just me, “this is how I always behave” I’d say.  Being that we are both quite analytical and were slightly hesitant to risk our friendship, we both accepted this response.

Until one beautiful evening in Kelowna, where we’d travelled to visit my dear friend Leanne, who Lolly had also come to know well over the years.  Enter “Romantic Lolly”. After a beautiful day at the beach and a perfect evening full of signals, Lolly, remaining true to his gentle and respectful nature asked if it would be ok if he kissed me. I agreed whole-heartedly, and so he did, and it was just perfect.  As was the rest of our summer together.

In the evenings we’d make our way down to a large set of boulders, which sat oceanfront nearby to where Paul lived.  For hours and hours we’d sit, first watching the sun set and then staying ‘round long enough to watch it rise again.  Sometimes we’d talk and sometimes we’d sit in silence, sometimes we’d sing, and on occasion we’d even stand up for a little dance.  These were times that I will remember and treasure forever. There’s a song by the band Keane called “Somewhere Only We Know”, which articulates in its lyrics, composition and arrangement, the dynamic of our time at the boulders.  One of my favourite memories of Lolly is of us standing under the moonlight, our palms touching at chest level, both of us, in full tilt, belting out the song!  We just got each other.

At the end of the summer it was time for Paul and I to say goodbye for a short while. I had planned a six-month journey to India, a long time dream of mine. From the time I bought my ticket Paul was there to encourage me. He was proud of the work that I planned on doing while I was there and believed in me fully.  Throughout my time in India we stayed in touch through email with Paul constantly assuring me that I was in his prayers.  This brought me endless comfort during my time away.  And upon my return, Paul welcomed me home with open arms and a Valentine’s Day box of toffees with a simple note inscribed, “To a real sweetheart, Love Lolly XOX”.  As I adjusted to being home, Lolly and I caught up on our time apart.

Not long after I returned, he was back on the road with the Rovers and then off to England to be with his family, and then again back on the road for a short while.  The time we spent together in between these trips was, as it had been all along, so meaningful to me. Lolly always found the time and heart to make me feel special.  He’d send flowers to my workplace and always brought me something small and unique in his time away.

In the spring, when we were both finally back in Vancouver together we made a decision to be together as a couple. We let go of our worries about how it might affect our friendship and finally committed to each other. I can’t express in words how right our decision felt for me.  Lolly is the best person I’ve ever known, I loved him deeply. I don’t know anyone who understood me the way Lolly did.

The following day, Lolly sent me the most beautiful bouquet of pink roses, and on the card he wrote, “To My Girl XO”.  I look at the card, which is pinned to my wall at work every day.  It brings me so much happiness, and yet so much sadness too.  His romantic gestures continued on.  One that constantly comes to mind happened one morning on my way to work.  I walk to work each day and on this particular day, I’d asked Lolly to walk with me.  He explained that he wasn’t able to because he was expecting a call and would need to be near to his car.  I understood and went on my merry way. Little did I know Lolly had his own plan in mind.   As I approached a corner along the way something possessed me to look back. There was Lolly, standing with flowers in hand and wearing that same smile that I was so drawn to from the first moment we met.  He’d driven his car to my workplace and then back tracked on foot to be able to walk the last fifteen minutes with me.

The night before Lolly died, we had an incredible evening together.  Looking back on it, it feels like it was the perfect synopsis of our relationship. We spoke of what was important in our lives, of our parents and our siblings, and of our happiness together.  That same night, Lolly gave me the heads up for yet another thoughtful gesture that he had been planning for me, which was to take me over to Bowen Island for an intimate birthday celebration later that weekend.  Unfortunately that wasn’t possible, but I will remember Paul’s thoughtfulness forever.  I love you Lolly.

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