In the early hours of yesterday morning a very dear friend passed away. We knew it was coming, and in many ways it will have been a release from a great deal of pain. But that never saves you from the deep sense of loss you feel when someone magical leaves this earth – especially someone so very very young.

I only met James a few years ago. I’d been helping out with KinoAdelaide, the local arm of an international film making community called KINO. Then at a KINO Kabaret in Sydney in 2009, James made a short film, “No Stopping” in response to a challenge I set about mobile film making. I made a follow-up film to his, both shown below. I’m not much of a film maker (yet) but I always enjoy playing with the KINO crews all over the world, and my time there with James cemented our friendship. I went on to live in Sydney and James would come and stay whenever he was in town. His snoring was louder than thunder but his laughter would clear any storm clouds away.

Many people have been touched by James’ incredibly open heart. When he visited Europe last year he called in to see my sister in Brighton. After his visit I knew she would feel happier knowing I was OK in my new life on the other side of the world – after all, if my new friends were anything like James then obviously it was all going to be OK. I will always love him for making such a generous gesture to a stranger.

James and his sister Clem in Brighton

James and his sister Clem in Brighton (posted with permission from the family)

James had one of the cheekiest senses of humour I have ever known (and I know&love quite a few cheeky folk). The turnout at a special film screening at MRC organised by Kirsty Stark, Maxx Corkindale, Dave Wade and his girlfriend Amber showed clearly how many people loved that young, talented man. Sadly James was too sick to attend, but watched the films from his family home in sync with us & joined us through Skype and a twitter feed (hashtag #weloveyoujames, archived at storified). Of all those films the one depicting his lifelong ambition to swim in the Pacific and Indian Oceans in the same day (the great PacIndian swim” posted as a private film, sorry) is something I will watch, and cry with, again and again.

James on skype at #weloveyoujames. (thanks to Kirsty Stark for the photo)

James on skype at #weloveyoujames. (thanks to Kirsty Stark for the photo)

Not many people can talk openly about their own fragility. James shared what he was going through so that we knew how valuable our time was. His strength and honesty enabled us to be equally honest and open about our feelings for him in return. He even organised a party via a facebook event entitled “Here for a good time, not a long time” just so his friends and loved ones could say goodbye. The photobooth video shows just how much love was flowing that day.

I last visited James at his family’s home a week ago. He was still in good spirits, but much weaker. On Thursday I took his 8year old nephew out for a bike ride and hung out with a mutual friend Obie; I felt like he was very much in my mind and heart. I even told my grandad, Arthur Cooper, to keep an eye out for him when he gets wherever one goes. Then yesterday morning, Friday 17th February 2012 I received the following SMS:

“With James in our hearts, we write to tell you that this morning at 2:51 he took his last breaths. Thank you for being such a special part of his life. The Mellors. xxx”

I know a blog post can’t do anything to change this cruel event, but I wanted to collate some of my thoughts for him in one place where I can come back and reflect. With this post I send my deepest love and condolences to everyone who knew and loved him, but especially to his beautiful family who gave so generously and will be hurting so dreadfully. The one thing I have gained from this experience is the joy of meeting the people who helped James become the adorable person he was. To his parents Margie & Tim, siblings Annabel, Clemmie, Rosie, Sarah and Will, nephew Oscar, girlfriend Amber, and all the many cousins, uncles, aunts, friends… oh so many people, so very much love.

And to James; thank you for all the joy and laughter you brought to my world. Like so very many other people, I will miss your shining light. Travel safe, dear boy. We love you James x

James & I (photo by Dave Cheng)
James & I (photo by Dave Cheng)

Update: People who knew & loved James might want to know that I decided to name my future-bus after him, and that (i believe in all cosmic-ness) blogging about it lead to me actually finding my bus. Thanks James <3

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