In Memoriam – Not just a ‘Regular’

I’ve already written about how meeting someone for coffee can change the world. But what about the people we meet through coffee? Turns out they can have just as much of an impact.

In the coffee shop I roast within, we see a lot of ‘regulars’ --- those people who come in daily at the approximately the same time of day for the same thing. Sometimes we call them by their order. They start out as “Double Americano To Go Guy” or “Triple Cappuccino Girl” but eventually we learn their names and they ours and a kind of countertop friendship emerges.

Yesterday I attended the funeral of someone who walked into my world almost every single day for the nearly 2 years I’ve been associated with the coffee shop in my town. Every morning after dropping his young daughter at preschool he’d lumber up to the counter to speak the words that sometimes seemed so difficult before he’d had that first cup. He wanted… no needed… a large coffee topped with almond milk and a cinnamon bun. There were days when, if it was busy, I’d spot him at the back of a long line of customers and I’d reach for the almond milk and an empty cup and give him the knowing nod that meant, “Here you go, Deric. Help yourself.”

But then there were the other days when he’d linger at the counter and chat with us while he waited for the freshest pastries to come out of the oven. Or, he’d sit at the corner table and play games on his phone, or sink into the comfy green chairs and we’d visit for as long as we could without neglecting the other customers. Usually just a few minutes at time but during that time we came to know a bit about each other. We knew about the antics of his daughter and how much he loved being a stay-at-home-dad to her and how like any other parent was sometimes exhausted. He knew when I was going through a separation and offered first shock and then understanding. We knew about his passion for wood working and how he had a long list of unfinished projects. We congratulated him when we learned his wife was pregnant and again, when she gave him a new baby girl to love.

We knew about his passion for cycling. And it was because of that knowledge that we worried when we heard that a man in his 40’s was involved in a fatal cycling accident on the outskirts of town.

The next morning every time the door opened after 8:30 am we hoped to see his familiar face and be reassured that it wasn’t him. I envisioned myself approaching him at the counter and saying how glad we were to see him and how we’d worried. I was even going to offer him a relieved hug. But I never got the chance. Instead I remember the last time I saw him. I was in the roasting room. I had heard his familiar voice and heard him laugh with Heather as she talked to him about how his 6 week old daughter would not let him sleep at night. She offered him a free coffee refill to help get him through his day. Before he walked out the door, he knocked on my roasting room window, and gave me a big smile and a friendly wave that said “See you tomorrow” without saying the words. He was a part of our routine and we were a part of his.

But that afternoon, all his tomorrows were taken from him. And from his wife. And his daughters. And his many friends. And even from the people whose lives he walked into everyday for five minutes of conversation, a large coffee with almond milk, and a cinnamon bun. He will be missed. RIP Deric Kryvenchuk. May there always be a wind at your back and good coffee at the end of your ride.