I met him only the one time in person, last year, when his friend, Gordon, brought him in to the CBD and the pair of them stole me away for an hour during my lunch break. We went to the Book Lounge and sat on the couch. I remember thinking how large that cup of hot chocolate in Leon's hands was and how much more joy he'd get from drinking it than me, who was more than twice his height.
In person there was no denying the wisdom and courage of this young man who had aged before his time. Even then (and now) my heart bleeds for him. Every day could be his last yet he lived his life with such fortitude, with such hunger to learn, to create, to explore. Never once did he ever complain to me about the injustice of his situation.
I learned a valuable lesson from Leon. If that means that I sleep less than most people, so be it. Life is too short, brutal and uncaring. There is so little joy in the world and it is up to us to shape life to mean something, to find the beauty and the truth of our Selves.
Leon gifted me with the painting, the image of which I've included in this blog. At first I couldn't believe he'd give me such a valuable work of art, something he must have spent many, many hours working on.
He insisted, telling me he knew I was the one who resonated the most with the work and he wanted me to have it.
But I just want to thank him yet again. The picture hangs above my bed. It reminds me that life is precious. Every moment is irreplaceable and it is up to me to make the best use of every last, living breath.
I heard about his passing on Twitter yesterday. Not the best of ways but yeah, that's the way it flows nowadays. I'm not going to wallow in all the "might-have-beens" and "should-haves". Leon, thank you, not only for gifting the world with your art, but also for your friendship. You are a shining light, a magician transformed, and I will carry your memory with me until I am dust. Wherever you are, dear friend, may Thoth enlighten you, Anubis open the way. Strength for your journey, brother.
I interviewed Leon last year, and the link is here: http://nerinedorman.blogspot.com/2010/08/leon-botha-artist.html