It’s strange talking to a guy who is almost certainly going to die. Not in what Fight Club so eloquently called “the Tibetan Buddhist sense” of the term. Josh Haddon had a five percent chance of being alive in three years when I spoke to him in early 2015. He had stage three esophageal cancer. In his own, dark-humored way, he pointed out that he’d much rather have non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Well, Haddon, who tried to spend his last months on earth laughing at his impending demise, finally succumbed to cancer last month.
Talking to Haddon was one of the stranger experiences in my career. As he so succinctly put it, people who will say the dirtiest things onstage wouldn’t say “cancer” in front of him. We all know that we’re dying and so much of what we do is designed to help us ignore that, whether it’s drinking or sports or driving fast. When we spoke, Haddon was at once adamant that he wouldn’t be a statistic and candid about his chances of not being one—i.e. not good.
Does the world need more people like Josh Haddon? I think so, but far be it for me to tell anyone how to deal with their own death. There’s a certain absurdity to dying young, and by “young” I mean “before 70.” You can laugh or you can cry and both responses have their place, but perhaps we spend too much time doing the latter. How much time do we spend stressing over things that won’t matter in a week, a month, a year or even ten minutes?
Like Old Blue Eyes said, “You gotta love livin’, baby, ’cause dyin’ is a pain in the ass.” As much as he was able to, Haddon embraced loving living until he got the biggest pain in the ass of them all.
We salute you, Josh Haddon. You’ll be missed.