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Remembering Jarad Higgins, 21 June 1990 – 19 October 2018

This is my eulogy for Jarad Higgins, a dear, sweet, troubled young man, fellow cancerian and writer whose funeral takes place in Queensland today. Our mutual friend Gareth Ernst has kindly agreed to read it on my behalf as I’m currently in America. Peace.

Jarad, I’m sorry I can’t be there in person today. But you would chuckle with that raspy roar of yours at Gareth offering to read these words out on my behalf. You brought us together last Christmas Day, so neither of us would be alone, especially as it was the first anniversary of another friend of mine passing. 

Like Gareth – hi Gareth! – it was Doctor Who that was our great shared interest, so I expect you’ll roar again when I tell you that I was in England just nine minutes into the second episode of the new series when I discovered the news purely by accident on someone’s Facebook. I paused the programme and struggled to take in what I was reading. After an hour of posts, comments and messages I continued with the Doctor’s story. The first words that cascaded from the transmission were:

“You’re alive… We thought you were dead.”

Cue another raspy roar somewhere in a better place. Oh, the irony.

For anyone lucky enough to have spent even a moment in the presence of this beautiful soul, you will know how Jarad’s sudden passing will have shocked and impacted so many… 

He had his demons – don’t we all – but his closest friends and family are naturally heartbroken for the simple fact that Jarad filled every place with love, light & laughter. 

Although I was disappointed he left Sydney, the move to Queensland was supposed to be Jarad’s big new start, and we were planning another Christmas so I could check out his awesome new pad on the Victoria Point peninsula.

Jarad really was one of the sweetest, kindest guys I’ve known. He would take care of tech-head maintenance issues for my website and never once asked for anything in return. He was just happy that someone put their faith in him.

March 2017 at The Rocks, Sydney. Lorikeets seemed to follow Jarad everywhere

When I attended Gareth’s exhibition launch in February – hi Gareth! – Jarad was filming the life class drawing for Gareth’s Facebook page. Again, he was just happy to be doing something. Without a purpose in life what are we? And yes, that is a rhetorical question.

Later that night he took me to one side and slurred into my ear, “Steve, if you can afford to would you consider buying one of Gareth’s canvases? I’m bringing him food at the moment, so you’d really be helping him out.”

Luckily I already had my eye on a huge sketch that featured sunflowers and a naked man. How could Gareth – hi Gareth! – have possibly known to combine two of my favourite things? Anyway, thanks for the nudge, Jarad. It now hangs proudly at my house in France. You really did have the kindest of hearts. 

It was on the Tallship, ‘tween us…

If I’m honest, I’m more than a little angry you’ve left us. Not at you, but at the people that failed you, the stupid medical doctors and the whole evil big business pharmaceutical industry. Doctors, Psychiatrists, Therapists…It’s all text book crap with them… Yes they can offer advice, dish out medication – lots of medication – listen to what you have to say (or pretend to listen to what you have to say) but they don’t actually understand how hard it often is. Being cursed with an addictive personality isn’t kept under control by endless pills. Not one of them got Jarad into rehab, they just furnished him with more and more tablets, so many that he almost rattled when he walked. Is it any wonder he barely knew who he was?

We are all different, We have our own wildly differing personal stories but we’re often in the same war with our minds. Please, for Jarad’s sake, don’t let your thoughts or your demons win. 

Keep fighting, do what you have to do but do not ever give up. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to someone… a friend, family member, or even a complete stranger that you know has an empathetic pair of ears. Jarad was a great listener and I’m going to miss him being in the world.

And I know wherever he is now he’s finally at peace with himself.

Steve Pafford, Portland, Oregon 

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