Wednesday, March 7, 2012

RIP, Phil.

The world lost a great one when Phil Patnaude, a great friend, brother, family member, fiancee, and person, passed away this weekend in Chicago. I've spent the past couple of days trying to come to grips with how to deal with this, as I can only imagine his closest friends and family have done. That's why I'm writing this here, even though this is usually about sports. I want to remember Phil. I want everyone to remember Phil. And really, that will never be a problem, as Phil left a lasting impact on anyone fortunate enough to meet him.

I remember meeting Phil at the University of Illinois in the Fall of 2005, my freshman year and his senior year. I wasn't particularly interested in rushing a fraternity, as I found the large size of many of the houses on campus a turn off. Yet, I knew a couple of guys in Delta Phi, a smaller fraternity. I decided to give it a shot.

Now, at most fraternities on campus, the sheer size of the frat contributes to a sort of division between the various pledge classes that join the house. This wasn't the case at Delta Phi, where the small size of the house necessarily led to a more cohesive brotherhood. But that wasn't the only reason for the lack of a division. The older guys in the house, completely out of the norm for the Greek system on campus, seriously cared about the incoming guys and wanted to be friends with them. Phil was the epitome of this.

He made it a priority to take time out of his last year in school to make friends with the younger guys, not out of necessity because of the size of the house, but because he wanted to. It instantly made me want to be a part. I watched how close he was with the rest of his class as well, and it made me realize how truly close the guys in the house were. I will seriously never forget that.

As the bad news rolled in Monday, I couldn't help but first think of all those who had remained really close to Phil over the years. His fiancee, his close friends from Delta Phi, his family, etc. Those guys were always together, coming down to Champaign for homecoming or just for the hell of it, and each time impressed me with their desire to be friends with all of us younger guys, and the way they all stuck together and stayed close friends even those years after college. I can't possibly imagine what those guys and others close to him are going through, because I know myself the impact that Phil has left on me.

I wasn't super close to Phil. I knew him well during my freshman year at Illinois, and fell back into a good friendship anytime I saw him or the other older guys come down in the years after they graduated. I wish after I had graduated I had taken it upon myself to cement relationships with those guys, who always impressed me with their ability to care about us and each other, at least more than just the random sighting at a bar or playing fantasy football. But one thing I do know is that I'm hurting bad from Phil's loss, probably not even close to what those closest to him are feeling, but bad. And really, that's a testament to the impact that Phil had on nearly everyone he came across.

The outpouring of love, support, and consideration for Phil only shows how valued he was as a person to so many different people. People who didn't know him are heartbroken just by seeing the reactions of those close to him. Everyone, whether they saw him everyday or just once, know what a loss this is to the world around us. It's heartbreaking.

No one can truly prepare for the loss of a friend. But something tells me, or at least I hope so, that it will bring us closer together. I know that it helps to see friends, brothers, family members, or anyone who knew Phil, to help get us through this. Maybe together we could all try to emulate Phil's infectious smile, engaging and gregarious personality, sheer honest and kind attitude, ability to have fun and bring that fun to others, and all of the other amazing qualities that made him who he was. At least I hope so.

I want to express my heartfelt condolences for those who knew Phil better and were closer to him than I was. All of the older guys at Delta Phi, his fiancee Selena, his family, and everyone else he met along the way. I am hurting, and I can only imagine what you're going through. I am here for anything you can possibly need. 

RIP, Philmo. You will most definitely be sorely missed.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Found this great blog. Philip would have been so happy to read this. He was so humble that he would quietly say 'thanks', with that special smile of his. He was the best people person, best of friends. We all miss him.