We came into each others’ lives thanks to a series of shared desks, in a few different locations, as the small retail super and investment fund we worked for shifted from parent to parent, South Melbourne to the CBD.
Working within touching distance all those years, and being the only two assigned to the fund’s investment side, we developed this sense of ‘us against the world’ throughout that time… but it didn’t start out that way.
I well recall his first day in the office. He was a temp and was hired to report to me. Small bites of personality, at first: a Carlton supporter (he couldn’t hide that for long!), with a quick wit and obvious intelligence. He seemed reserved, but the eye brow ring and shoulder tattoo slightly visible through his shirt indicated a rebellious streak.
Ah, the laughs. Adam was hilarious. Like, tears of laughter. It made the dull days ploughing through investment requests bearable.
He was also loyal. Fiercely. Watching his human interactions, you could see that you had to earn Ads’s loyalty, but once you did, he was immense. He wouldn’t hesitate to support a mate – or later, his gorgeous family – in any situation.
As years passed we enjoyed watching and analysing the share market, talking sport (his level of AFL knowledge was astounding, and he took the time to indulge my passion for ice hockey) and heading out to the local boxing. As serious relationships, weddings and families evolved, we evolved, too.
I’ll never forget him telling me about meeting Melissa, who would go on to become his wife. Melissa had a little girl at the time, Amelia. It was a case of falling in love with two people at once for my mate.
It was inspiring to hear him so enthused about becoming a father. He’d always spoken fondly of his role as an uncle, and more than once – during a discussion about life’s pressures – he’d be able to relate a story of joy received by playing with the kids in his life.
Amelia lifted that to the next level. It wasn’t long before Adam became Dad. He adored her; you could see the thought of Amelia breathing life into him as he talked about their weekends spent at Lilydale Lake.
He was also immeasurably supportive of me as I took the first tentative steps to dealing with depression.
There were times when I worried for him – times when he wouldn’t turn up at work for a couple of days at a time, uncontactable – and there were occasional flares of fire in his eyes when he became frustrated, the same eyes that sparkled with unconscious joy when talking about Amelia. Stories of broken televisions and issues at Crown Casino (Ads loved poker, used to steal my old iPhone to play Gus Hansen Poker tournaments when he was bored at work, too!). But he seemed to gather himself and move on.
Late in 2016 Ads was talking about how they were making him redundant, as yet another new owner came to the business. As someone who actively hated job interviews, I thought there would be a tricky situation for him lying ahead.
Once 2017 arrived, again after we’d chatted about our relative mental health situations (though Ads hid his pretty well) earlier this year, he kind of disappeared for a while. Not physically, but he’d stopped answering his phone or sending emails. Plans for a family catch up at Mount Martha went onto the back burner.
Worried, I sought clarity from former co-workers, who had mentioned he’d been hard to reach. So I left him a voicemail.
It was less than a week later when a call came through, around dinner time. Melissa – who I’d last seen beaming at her marriage to Adam – was on the line, and I knew immediately what was next.
The impact silenced me, to the point that Melissa – this is a measure of the person – asked me how I was going.
The next few days were a weird space, mentally. It wasn’t quite believable. The inevitable ‘Why?’ still sits front-of-mind.
At the funeral, close friends and family echoed what everyone knew of Adam. Loyal, an apparent lover of life, his family, and the golf course. With that amazing sense of humour on top.
Melissa was inconceivably brave, as was Amelia. I think everyone’s heart broke more with every word, but they used that power and said what they needed to say.
Afterwards, as I sipped from a horrible Beam and Coke (the kind of which I’ve watched Ads consume over the years) I asked Melissa if she’d mind me writing this, and if we could use DAD as a way to spread the message that it’s ok if you feel shit, there is someone out there you can talk to. There is help, and you are no less of a person if you put your hand up – it’s the bravest option of all.
Melissa has been, as ever, an angel, and we are working on a keystone event for 2018 that will remember Adam on an on-going basis. The core intent is to provide strength to Melissa and Amelia, too… as well as those who are unable or unwilling to communicate before it’s too late.
It’s taken me a couple of bites to finish this. Two nights ago, I started crying and had to leave the house at 10.30pm for a long walk. It didn’t hit me so abruptly until that point, but it’s only a tiny portion of what Melissa and Amelia must be feeling.
Ads will live with those close to him for the remainder of their lives. We all miss you, mate. Looking at the featured image, his intense eyes and cheeky grin… it’ll be a long time before tears stop welling it the sight of it.