Khalil Lorenzo Mouna spent 25 years making people smile, many times when they’d least expect too. So there is no way he’d miss the opportunity to tell you not to worry about him, he’s just “dead tired.”
If you’re laughing to yourself a little and feel like you shouldn’t be or have started thinking of other morbid puns then you have a good idea of what it was like to be around Khalil most of the time. He knew how to find the bright spots in the darkest days.
Khalil always kept things simple. As a child you could leave him alone in a puddle of mud and he’d be happy. He didn’t need anything fancy. You may have noticed that from his wardrobe. He liked to joke with his brother that they had a uniform, black t-shirts and blue jeans, which both wore 90% of the time. The only other things you’d see him wearing were wildly eccentric jackets on very special occasions (mostly to mock the event in some light-hearted way) or clothes made for Uxbridge Taekwondo Academy, in support of his family’s gym.
Khalil never complained. Not if a waiter got his order wrong nor if someone cut in front of him in line, because he’d always give people the benefit of the doubt and remind us that they might be having a harder day than we realized. Which many times could have been true, but most of the time, it was him having a harder day than anyone realized. In fact it wasn’t until he was almost a teenager that he even realized he needed glasses. Up until then he just thought everyone saw leaves as a green blur, and if it hadn’t been for a fly that bit him so close to his eye he almost went blind, you would have never known he needed to get his eyes checked. He just did his best with what he had, and in that case it went something like this:
Doctor (pointing to the letter “H”) - “What do you see?”
Khalil - “Hmm...a 4?”
Doctor - “Oh, oh no…”
Khalil was a brilliant student and every teacher he had loved having him in class. But if you knew him you’d know it was his natural curiosity that led him to so many interesting discoveries. Discoveries he’d share with anyone willing to listen, and you were lucky if you did, because you’d almost always learn something new. Before Siri came along and started doing a half baked job of answering our questions, Khalil was there to explain how everything from osmosis to supernovas worked. And no matter what the subject or how complicated a concept might have seemed, he never talked down to anyone about it, or bragged about how much he knew. Instead he’d explain it with so much passion and enthusiasm you usually found yourself way more interested in how something like stop motion films worked than you may have ever expected.
Khalil was a fighter. He grew up training with his teammates, brother, and Papa at 5:30 AM before a full day of school and training again in the evening. He fought across the country for over 10 years and had a wicked spin hook kick, which his brother can tell you is a great way to see stars in the middle of the day. He was national champion more than once. But you’d never hear it from him. He was a gentle giant that didn’t fight for himself or for glory, he fought for others. He fought to make other people feel brave. If you’ve ever been a competitor in any sense of the word, you know that some people bring out the best in you just by being there. That was Khalil. He was there to make you feel like you could do it. Be it by making fun of you for getting tired or by giving you a hug before a fight, you couldn’t help but push a little harder because of the little things he would do.
Khalil loved his family, his friends, and his dogs - and everything else was a nice to have. He had a tattoo for his Mama on his wrist, and would do anything to make her smile...which almost made his first day of work at Wonderland his last. A story that goes something like this:
Wonderland Manager - “Welcome to your first day working at Wonderland. Any questions?”
Khalil - “I won’t be here this weekend because it’s my Mama’s birthday.”
Wonderland Manager - “Oh you can’t do that, you need to give us more notice so we can put it on the schedule”
Khalil - “I’m just telling you I’m not going to be here.”
Wonderland Manager - “No I mean you cannot miss the shift, it’s too late to change the schedule.”
Khalil - “Yeah I’m still not going to be here.”
Wonderland Manager - “...okay, well...umm...we really need more notice next time.”
Khalil - “Okay.”
Khalil was never rude or mean, he was just straightforward and honest. He told you how he felt because he’d rather upset you than lie to you, a principle that is hard to live by but certainly invaluable in a friend, sibling, and son. Thankfully he was as tactful as he was true, and even when you didn’t want to hear it, you knew if Khalil told you something hard to hear it was said without a doubt, out of love.
That’s what made his battle with OCD so difficult. More often than not, it was a battle no one could help him fight, no matter how much they wanted to. And for all the people he helped, time and time again, in ways big and small, it was incredibly painful to see him struggle to overcome an illness that used his greatest asset against him, his mind. It forced him to try and answer questions that had no answer, and for a mind like Khalil’s, an incredibly brilliant, thoughtful and curious mind, there could be nothing worse. But his struggle taught the people closest to him some of the most important lessons they would ever learn. He taught us that the harder things get, the more patient, kind, and willing to laugh you have to be. He loved video games, and believed that like in most games if things were getting harder, it usually meant you were going the right way. Things only get easier if you’re going backwards, or using cheat codes (both of which he had no time for). So he lived his life going forward, trying new things, and doing anything he could to play a little longer.
He loved movies and superheroes. We all have our favourites, and Khalil’s was Spiderman. When he was five years old he stopped responding to any of his given names; Khalil, Lorenzo, even Gem...but if you called him Peter, Parker, or Spidey he’d respond with a big smile. Some nights you could even find him in his crib holding his wrist, which was concerning at first...until he’d proudly announce “Just now you will see my web!” ...and even though we never saw any webs, between Superman, the Hulk, Spiderman and the rest...Khalil was definitely our superhero.
Life is suddenly different now, and harder than ever for his friends, family, and even for the strangers that will never meet him or see him pass by with a smile that could have turned a bad day into a good one. But if you asked Khalil, he would tell you that it means we are going the right way, and that we have to “Keep calm and Carry on” without him. He’d be very proud to use that quote in its intended context, he was not a fan of the variations...at all.
Life will never be the same for us. But Khalil would ask “Would you want it to be?” and if you were someone that cared about him, I think it’s safe to say “No.” No, we don’t want life to be the same, we want it to get better, and it already is... because now Khalil isn’t struggling anymore. Now Khalil isn’t fighting a battle alone anymore. And now Khalil is safe forever. He was the best of us, and taught us how to find the best in ourselves and put it out into the world so that the grace of God can shine through us the way it always shone through him.
He used his time here well, and now it’s up to us to do the same. Find reasons to smile, on the days you want to cry. Help people in need, even if you’re the one that needs help more. And laugh out loud, no matter how many people look at you funny.
And now in some of his favourite words, “So long, and thanks for all the fish” - Khalil Mouna - Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Visitation will be held at the Low & Low Funeral Home, 23 Main Street South, Box 388, Uxbridge L9P 1M8 (905-852-3073) on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 from 1:00 – 3:00 and 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Following the Government Recommendations, all attendees must wear a mask or face covering, and maintain social distancing while at the funeral home; attendance within the facility will be monitored throughout the visitation times.
A Private Family Service will be held, by invitation only.
The Funeral Service will be live streamed on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 starting at 1:00 p.m.
Please use this link, to join and watch the service.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
1451 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M6R1A1
Toronto Humane Society
11 River Street, Toronto ON M5A 4C2