It was late on a certain night of the year. New Years Eve no less. The beer was flowing and we were having what we were classifying as an excellent time. The table cleared for a minute as people went to the bar, to chase girls, pee almost continuously, or just to chat to another group of revellers. I turned to my friend and we looked through the crowd and of course, someone was missing.
'Dude, where the fuck is he?! It's New Tears Fucking Eve!'
'Mate! I don't know! It's fucked up!' Replied my excellent, tall, boat sinking friend.
'Well he better be sick or dead! He's missing the fucking fun!'
The next day I got a phone call while at work. My friend was indeed sick that night.
He died the next day.
We flash forward and I'm at work, its New Years day and the cinema is very quiet. I get given a message that I need to call home and its January the first nineteen ninety eight, so I call home because I never get messages normally. @Mamacrow answers and brakes it to me, he died an hour ago, of Meningitis.
My arse touches the faded red seat in the foyer, I'm still on the phone but I'm really not.Not really anywhere. I'm there, last night, sitting at that table, or maybe I'm sitting in his flat and maybe I'm already home as well. I'm nowhere.
'I'm coming home,' I mumble and the phone goes down. First thing, first person I see is 'Pip'. He's annoying and inoffensive and he smokes, so I bum a fag and tell him I'll be out back for a minute. He can tell, damn, he can smell somethings up and so he sends my good mate and the supervisor out back to check on my unscheduled brake. We talk, he sets up my early departure and I head home.
Walking out of the building and standing out front I could feel eyes on me. I remember that feeling of being watched far more than most of the feelings that night, the rest is kind of numb, silent, a void. My first real meeting with mortality. Those eyes though? I can feel them linger still.
I was young, twenty one, he was younger. He'd joined the navy and was loving life and it was a crying shame. Wrong on every level, and yet, we learn from life and its cruelty.
I have come to understand that death doesn't pick you because you're evil or cruel, mad or reckless. It just does. Life doesn't crap on us or shine because we are worthy. It just does. There are things that we can do to increase the chances of death and those that can increase the chances of success and sunshine but in the end, if its your time, then its your time.
I don't go out on New Years Eve any more. I stay at home and watch Jools Holland's Hootenanny. Its good. I don't sit and moan or be miserable. I'm as comfortable as I'll ever be with that day and that feeling. It's a time I remember to cherish my family and pull close the people I hold dear. There are other days that will join this one in my life for reflection and for holding people close. I won't be able to tell who will go, when, or where. I have to accept (as we all do) that one day my parents will die. I have many siblings, sadly the likelyhood are I have a good chance of facing tragedy in the years to come but I hopefully will face it with my eyes open.
Why this post? Why now? Well I'm following someone on Twitter and they are very ill. Honestly, they're dying. It seems hopeless and cruel and it seems nothing can change this much undeserved outcome. What can I do? Well, if I won the lottery I would send them money. If I had some great words of advice I would give them, but I don't. Honestly, all I know is that it seems entirely random as to how things turn out.
What can we do? Nothing, just sit and ride it out and be there. That's it. Small comfort and yet maybe that small comfort may help in some small way. I hope it does. If I could help my twitter friend I would, perhaps there is nothing I can do practically, but I will be there and maybe that's enough.
It sounds crap, stereotypical and very clichéd but I still see my mate in town. Someone will walk through the crowd and I'll just see their hair or someone will bowl through a shop and I'll have to double take, because for the briefest of seconds my brain tells me he's there, right there. Still in my thoughts, still in my memories, still a part of my life.
I haven't given up hope, I believe the world is as brilliant as it is horrible and maybe some ray of light will come. I pray it does. If things go badly I know I'll boot-up twitter and I'm sure it will be the same as my friend in town, I'll see someone has tweeted something and I'll have to double take. I hope it will be of small comfort to his family to know that there will be people; not just me, that remember him.