“Get me two coffees” was one of the daily messages he’d send out over our Facebook chat. And he always had two at once. Enthusiastic and restless, he’d come to the office with a million ideas, turn on music, and work on ten projects at once—but he always had time if you wanted to talk to him about an article, or if something personal was bothering you. He’d say “Get up and leave all that, let’s go out for a coffee so you can tell me what’s on your mind.” He was an amazing friend, without giving direct advice. He was a patient mentor, who never once shook his finger at us. He made us strong, because he left us free to make our own decisions. He always stood by our side, proud of us and of the work we were doing. He was in love with life. We would tease him that, with all the twenty- and thirty-somethings at the TPP, in the end it was the 40-year old who, more than any of us, enjoyed life’s little pleasures. Our day was always filled with jokes. Now there is bitter grief. Bitter like how his coffee tasted, when I would mix ours up and accidentally take a sip of his. But I know that, when the pain subsides, all the strength that Costas instilled in us will still remain.
Costas wasn’t ephemeral. He was the life, the heart, the mind, and the ideas behind a journalistic organization that managed to pull off a “small wonder,” as he used to say, in a world of massive media. An organization he dreamed up in 2010 and saw, step by step, grow and evolve, take praise and criticism, be cheered and reviled–but more importantly, stay alive. And there were dreams, dreams of better journalism, a better republic, a better society.
See also: The last “gooodbye” to Costas
They were dreams that Costas knew he would never get to see realized, but he decided to fight for them, knowing full well the cost and “futility” of his efforts. To struggle and die for dreams is a common conceit, one that is often cliché. Many people wish to do it, and proclaim and insist that they are, but few really do. Costas was certainly one of those few dreamers, “madmen,” heralds of utopia, whose purpose in life was to make sure that others could live. That Graneta, Markos, Leda, Rania, Zoe, Konstantinos, Sotiris, the TPP gang, society as a whole, could live.
Costas dreamed powerfully, and his dreams were infectious. We would listen to him talk and he’d suck us all in, into the complexity and innocence of his thought, into his “irrational” idealism, his passion for life and for journalism. He dreamed of journalism that would respect its reader and readers who would respect it back, and so would be willing to pay for it. Journalism without advertisements and constraints, that would be critical and investigative, and at the same time accessible all over the world. And Costas dreamed of all these things in a Greece characterized by crisis and a media oligopoly.
Costas was truly a person who excelled. At great personal cost, he managed to get his “firstborn” to where it is today, with all the recognition it enjoys. He never turned back, even when he’d bit off more than he could chew, because the vision and passion that he shared with all of us for independent journalism consumed him. Countless days without rest or sleep had became second nature for him, but he never stopped. As he often said on air and in his articles, “The TPP can and must continue even when I’m gone.” He hated clichés, and would most likely complain if he saw us writing about the immense void he has left for journalism, and especially for the society which he struggled with all of his powers to change. Nevertheless, it is true.
We have lost the heart of the TPP; we have lost the person we turned to every time we faced a problem. And he was always there as a coworker and friend…after we lost Sotiris, Costas said that what Sotiris had left behind were stockpiles and “footprints” for the next day. What Costas leaves is a “user’s manual” for a better society.
Costas has passed away, and he used to speak to us often about what would happen after he did—until we’d cut him off with a “stop it, re malaka.” Even if none of us wanted to believe it, that jerk put the reminder in his name. Our friend has passed away, and even though we were all aware it could happen any minute because of his health condition, it’s still difficult for us to comprehend.
It’s going to take some time to compose ourselves, and to find non-ephemeral words for Efimeros. Just like Efimeros’ dreams, which so far have proven anything but ephemeral.
Our thoughts are with his family, with Graneta and his children.
We have been so moved to read all the amazing things written about him. When we can, we too will write something more.
And here’s a song that he really loved. With all of our love.