Have no fear for givin’ in
Have no fear for givin’ over
You better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Than to never to say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shakin’
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closin’
Do it with a heart wide open
Say what you need to say
– John Mayer “Say”
Often times I find that song lyrics provide me the words that I can’t find on my own – it could be something that describes a mood I’m in, my views on a situation, or words I want to say to someone. Regardless of where the words come from, we should never be afraid to share them. Make sure you tell someone that you care about them, that you value them, that you appreciate what the bring to your life – you never know when they won’t be around anymore.
I first met Kent Berg during the 27B special election in the summer of 2007. We spent the day doing GOTV at a house in Lewiston. In the months and years that follow we developed a friendship. I moved on to a new job, as did he, and we would talk and offer support and guidance and insights as we moved towards the 2008 election and make decisions about the future. He’d visit my office in St. Paul and I’d swing by his Eagan office to chat. We were friends, colleagues, soldiers in the trenches. We shared a lot of good times – chats over cups of coffee, beers on the WA Frost Patio, slushies from Sonic on the picnic bench outside of my apartment, and more often than not, a lot of randomness.
As I moved on to yet another job, his job changed too. We both were dealing with transitions after the 2008 elections. We still would run in to each other, and hang out – but regrettably not as much as before. Regardless of the quantity of time we hung out, the quality still remained.
Fast forward to 2009 – His job changes even more. I dealt with a lot of personal and medical stuff. But we would still find time to talk and hang out when possible. In fact, Kent was the first person that wasn’t the Hoff who came to see (and give his approval to) my new house. I remember that day vividly – his comments about the built-ins, the woodwork, and the general charm of the place. Summer fades to fall, then we’re on to caucuses and conventions and 2010 is fast upon us.
2010 was a year of ups and downs for pretty much everyone I know – politically, personally, professionally. Kent seemed to have an especially rough time. September 28, 2010 – I remember the day: I had to meet someone on the street outside of my office and ran into him on the corner having a smoke outside Nina’s. I’m not a hugger, but I felt compelled to give him a hug. We chatted briefly and shortly later went our separate ways. I told Kent that I missed hanging out with him and couldn’t wait til he was back in the Cities and how he should come check out my house now that I was settled. He told me he was taking some time to figure some stuff out and just was doing his thing. I respected his requests for time and space to figure stuff out. If I hadn’t, I would have been a hypocrite, but I could tell something was up. We shared a few random IMs via gchat over the next few months, but that September afternoon was the last time I saw Kent.
February 16, 2011. This was the day that Kent left us.
For some reason, earlier that week I felt compelled to send him an IM telling him that I missed him. If only I would have taken that opportunity to tell him how much I valued his friendship, his humor, his fashion sense, his understanding, and all of the things that made Kent, Kent. I can’t re-do this, but I want to make sure I don’t miss this opportunity again. I want to make a better effort to tell people around me how much I appreciate them and what they do to help me be a better person.
I wish I could have have been there for you when you needed me most, Kent. I’m sorry. I miss you, buddy. Thank you for everything you did for me and everyone else who was impacted by you.
Godspeed, Kent C. Berg. Godspeed.
If you or a loved one is in a crisis situation, please reach out for help. Helpful resources can be found via NAMI-Minnesota at http://www.namihelps.org/support/crisis-resources.html. Asking for help does not make you weak.