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In Memory of the Life of Connor

Mary asked me today to give Eulogy because Connor and I were pretty close. I would even go as far as claiming that it was the closest either Connor or I ever came to a serious long-term, long-distance relationship. 7 and a half years and 4 days to be precise. We often joked that we might marry one day in case Theresa May should actually become UK prime minister – so he could become a German national and seek refuge. Around Christmas, we would always watch Love Actually together. We were never shy to express our affection, and so I feel nothing but happiness to have shared such an amazing time together – and full of love and laughter. And these two the two themes, love and laughter, are what I’d like to emphasise in the following and what clearly would’ve been the most important for Connor for such an occasion.

For the sake of love and laughter, I want to start by sharing a piece that Connor wrote, titled “True Love”. He shared this piece with me on the 5th of November 2021, marking 5 years of our friendship. I’ve been so free to edit it for brevity – and also to remove the occasional inappropriate joke.

I first met Connor, fittingly, at a pub in Edinburgh. It was the 5th of November 2016, a day with some of the finest Scottish weather: no rain, mild wind, and a whopping 5 degrees Celsius. My friend Jan had told me about this friend of his that I’d really needed to meet. I could not have been more uninterested. But I could never say ‘no’ when Jan begs me for something, and so I ended up calling an Uber. My first words to Connor and his group of about 8 friends were: “Hi great to meet you”. My second words were: “I don’t want to sit by the door, can we please change tables?” I used to be a real German idiot. It quite naturally was love at first sight between Connor and me. Thankfully, we’ve both changed for the better in our nearly 8 years of friendship since, by constantly inspiring each other.

In the following weeks, Jan, Connor, and I spent wonderful moments together and formed profound friendships that would stand the test of time. Connor introduced us to the works of Bruce Springsteen, Jan managed to take us to the worst place to have Haggis in Edinburgh, and I was just happy to hang out with my newfound brothers. During the time, Connor also introduced us to Rebecca, August, Carlos, and Raymond, whom he cherished deeply and with whom he’s managed to stay in contact all the time. When Connor made friends, he would never do so superficially and instead be prepared to walk five hundred miles – and five hundred miles more. It’s great that we can all be here together today.

Sadly, already a month after I first met Connor, most of us had to leave Edinburgh again, since we were only visiting the city temporarily, as exchange students. Yet, ever since, I probably met Connor about every three months, except during the pandemic. During the time with Bruce, travelling had very much become part of Connor’s DNA. In a space of just a few years, he managed to visit more countries and make more friends around the globe than most of us probably ever will. Connor made me a little part of that life, and I’m thankful for it. Together, we visited Gay St in Copenhagen and explored the city with our electric bikes firmly in “hill climbing mode” – and paid by Bruce. It was also here in the city that Connor first met Bruce, in 2013. In 2019, we spontaneously stayed at the Plaza Hotel in New York City – where one of us misplaced his passport, missed his 1st class return flight, had to apply for an emergency passport, only to later discover that his passport had been in his pocket all the time. We also shared numerous trips to London, and would always stay at the Park Plaza Hotel, where Connor had stayed so many times with the band. We had a blast together.

The illness was very hard for him but it also brought out many good qualities within him. He managed to become the fittest and physically healthiest he’d ever been at the peak of the pandemic. He loved COVID in this regard. He also developed a great amount of reliability and humility that he had previously somewhat missed. Whereas he used to like to portray himself to strangers as a privileged English boarding school kid, the near-constant experience of suffering had made him change for the better, particularly what values were important to him. He started working meticulously on the relationships to his loved ones, myself and others, and particularly with his mum, Mary.

Even though Connor ended up losing his fight against the illness that haunted him, we should not forget how hard he tried, every day. In his lifetime, he went through unimaginable pain but still kept going. When he had reached rock bottom of his addiction just before COVID-19 hit, he managed to pull himself up again and refer himself for treatment to some of the most competent doctors in the field, Zia. Connor’s been one of the most intelligent, empathic, and well-spoken individuals that many of us have ever met, and may ever meet. It is for this reason that he will never be forgotten by any of us: he truly was one of a kind and special, in every way.

I never actually met many of his friends from the time with Bruce. As Mary pointed out to me, Connor was always quite keen on carefully organising his life, including the relationships around him. I am pleased to have talked to Anna at one point, and to have been in touch with Anne recently, whose daughter was Connor’s goddaughter and who he loved very much. I was also very moved by the incredible response from Connor’s Bruce friends, with Dan – for example – putting together a wonderful photo album on Facebook. Even members of the band ended up posting about him – including Nils who he cared so much about. Connor was truly loved and will remain to be.

I also never met his sister Elidh, except for two very brief phone conversations. Yet, I am glad that she’s built a life for herself in my home country, found a supportive partner, and recently gave birth to a son, James. I wish them all the best, and congratulate Mary on now having become a grandma. I am so happy for you all.

To finish, Connor and I always joked that, only a few decades ago, we would’ve tried to kill each other on the battlefield. Now, we shared nothing but love and respect. I hope that, maybe, in the spirit of keeping the memory of Connor alive, we all manage to move even closer together in the future – full of love and laughter.

Them’s the breaks, Bruderherz. Hence, ever, onward!

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