Remembering John Corradin
Note: This was very hard for me to write, because he deserves better than the words I can muster, and this was the best I could do. I would need ten years and ten thousand pages to properly articulate what he meant to me and all the multitudes of people who loved him, and even that would never be enough.
He was my buddy. Not just my buddy, though. He was my ever luvin’ buddy, and also everyone else’s. That’s how he signed every email I ever saw: “Your ever luvin’ buddy, John” or sometimes YELB if he was in a rush. I sometimes referred to him as MELB for that reason. That sticks with me a lot, because it’s one of the truest things ever said. John Corradin really was your ever luvin’ buddy. No matter how annoyed he might get, no matter what horrendous decision you made in a game, one thing never changed: he loved you, he’d always love you, and he’d forever be your buddy.
Like an earthquake, there is an epicenter for gaming in the Mid-Atlantic region, and that epicenter is the Days of Knights. More than a game store, it is the nucleus of a vast web of gamers and soon-to-be gamers and hobbyists and enthusiasts that stretches far beyond its location in Newark, Delaware. In the center of that web was John Corradin, the greatest and surest ambassador of gaming I’ve ever known. All forms of gaming, too, from tabletop role-playing to Magic the Gathering to poker to Strat-o-Matic baseball to fantasy football to wargaming to everything in between.
Of them all, the biggest and most important – for me – was LARPing.
I first met John at a larp in Florida, far from his home. That’s how big the web grew, and it’s still growing. I was new to the whole enterprise and concept, and he was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the activity. From the start he engaged with me, in and out of game, making sure I was having fun, asking about me, inviting me to visit him in Delaware. It was a little overwhelming, at first. I’m a very shy person unless I’m playing a role or (especially) a couple drinks in. I’m uncomfortable in a crowd, I never know what to say, I’m awkward and self-conscious. But John was so genuine, so generous, that he got through all of my tendencies to wallflower my way through social interactions.
I’ve gotten the chance to read and hear a lot of stories about our ever luvin’ buddy over the last few weeks since his passing, and through them all is a common thread: “if it wasn’t for John, I wouldn’t know so many amazing people and shared so many fun and unbelievable experiences.” It’s the same for me. Without John, I don’t have 99% of the hundreds of friends and friendly acquaintances I do now. Every person that is important in my life right now came from knowing John. I moved from Florida to Delaware in 2005 because of John and the community he brought me into. I wouldn’t be with my wife right now if it wasn’t for John Corradin. My literal world and the people and things that I love are intrinsically tied to that single wonderful, amazing, unreal man.
His loss is a tremendous blow to a lot of extraordinary people. Not least his family, of course. Even in my own grief it breaks my heart to think of them. Mica, his wife, is one of the kindest, smartest, and most generous people I’ve ever met, and I can’t picture her without seeing her comforting smile. His daughters, Kyra – a wonderful, charming, and deeply sarcastic woman that I first met at my second larp, where she at 14 was to be my love interest and I at roughly double that age was unable to play that role and I couldn’t have been more awkward about the whole thing, as she was kind enough to remind me of recently – and Ciela, who I don’t know well but was always kind and generous when we saw each other, and whose children, Ronan and Valin, were a beaming source of joy in John’s life. I know the hole in my life now without John is as nothing to what they must feel.
I guess we’re lucky, because the network of people he brought together, hundreds and hundreds of them, have each other now to support us through our grief. I know that any time I want to see him, all I have to do is get together with them, and John will be there, just out of the corner of my eye. I’ll hear his laugh, and feel his hand on my shoulder, and for a while everything will be the same. He’ll live on through us all, and the stories we share, and the friendships and marriages he helped bring together. He made a home for a lot of us misfits, and we in turn will bring in more amazing people into the home he built. It’s what he would have wanted.
I love you, John. You are a father figure for me, a rock I can count on that is always there, no matter what. I never got to spend as much time with you as I wanted to, but I cherish every larp, every dinner, every football game, everything I got to share with you. You’re one of the best. You’ll always be my ever luvin’ buddy. Thank you for that.