"BeachGrit has been a big part of Sean’s surf journey, it gave him a place to relax, a sense of community and connectedness with the ocean."
(Editor’s note: In April, the BeachGrit writer and below-the-line commenter, Dr Sean Mitchell aka Offrocker, died of colon cancer. He was thirty-six. I couldn’t let the year pass without remembering his contribution to BeachGrit and to surfing. Hence a repeat of story below.)
In March, Sean’s wife Michelle wrote to tell me he was in a hospice, that his time was short.
“I just want to let you know that BeachGrit has been such a big part of Sean’s surf journey, it gave him a place to relax, a sense of community, and connectedness with the ocean, even if he can’t physically immerse himself in it. Thank you for creating such a great community.”
Sean’s contribution to BeachGrit was profound.
“Once again, in the lineup I felt like order had returned, a return to normality for a few short hours.
So I’m back in hospital this week. More complications.
The waves of samsara keep crashing.
This week it’s a fever, two days in hospital on hardcore antibiotics until they can rule out blood poisoning.
Three weeks ago, a threatened blood clot on the lungs.
Last week an allergic reaction to a new drug and a pustular rash.
These are all minor bumps in the road.
I’m looking forward to getting back out there already.
Maybe I’ll see you, you can’t miss me. I’m THAT kook, ecstatic to make it out the back on a small day, huffing and puffing like a steam train and grinning like a maniac.”
And his last story Quit-Lit in the Face of Cancer: Reflections on my Last Surf Ever (Maybe) sure did hit the buttons, everyone but Sean-y weepy.
“Why, at this time, do I even care enough to write an article for the Grit degenerates?
Because I learned something invaluable on my last surf that I want to share with the quitters. An ethic you won’t find espoused in the sanitised corpo-surf culture, an attitude you won’t find in the hearts of those that wade around in the shorebreak between the flags.
And that’s the reality that no-one gives a fuck in the lineup. I got backpaddled by smiling hipsters on twins. I got dropped in on by murfers on logs. I got shoulder hopped by aggressive entitled adolescents unaware that their post-grom transition is complete and they are now legitimately bottom of the foodchain, no longer protected by minority.
That day was just like every other day, except it was my last surf for the foreseeable future and maybe forever.
It has given me reassurance that the world will go on, with or without me. Everywhere else I go, I’m surrounded by crying relatives, well-meaning do gooders who “have just heard the news, I’m so so sorry.”
We miss you, brother.