I had occasion to visit Facebook two weeks ago; something I try and avoid most of the time, and there was a message for me. With interest I clicked on it and it turned out to be from an old friend that used to date one of my best mates. We were good mates for years ourselves and so I figured it was a hello.
Some fifteen years ago my mate died of Meningitis on the first of January 1998, it was a shock to say the least. We were young and it was indeed a terrible time. We drifted out of touch with many people from that time and so when she told me she had a letter to me, from him, written just before he died, I was pretty confused.
Why was I confused? Well it wasn't why the letter was still with her. He had gone very suddenly, in fact he fell sick New Years Eve and was dead the next day at five O clock pm. I didn't know it was anything serious till I was phoned at work (my local cinema) and was told he'd died by a distraught Mary. So she held on to anything she could, makes sense. He was a stoker on a British naval ship and the letter was just in his locker, the one she collected after the funeral. It all went into a box because facing that world breaking reality was more than she could bear.
That box was left in her attic, waiting, finally she came to clearing some stuff and found 'that' box. She opened it and there were probably some tears, and then she found the letter.
A letter she offered to pass on to me.
I picked up the letter yesterday. I had a great chat with her and she is doing great! Life is good, things are moving for her and we laughed like old times. I promised to bring some of the kids in to see her and I left feeling lifted, the letter burning a hole in my pocket.
I got home and left it for a few hours, then finally, I opened it. What was in the letter? He said hi, said he felt like crap and that he was soon going to be at sea and in a new section and so was hoping I'd write to him? It was a funny feeling, knowing these were the last words I'd ever read that were truly, genuinely his. I didn't weep or perhaps feel robbed of the time we could have had and the general life we could have enjoyed together. I felt sad and yet happy, gloriously, wonderfully happy, because I was blessed enough to have been given a last chance to chat.
That's what I decided to do. Just simply chat, and write the first letter I should have written to him. I'll try to write it now, say what's been up and down. It may not make sense to you, but it's here...
Man, I got your letter! Cheers for writing dude. Been an age and you've been watching anyway but I figured ...
No, that's not right. Sorry. Allow me to try again.
Been an age and I figure as you had written to me, so I should write to you. So it's been fifteen years, a long time right? Totally. Sooo much has happened! You know when we chatted about how crazy it was I was a dad? Now I'm a dad seven times over! It's mental! Mary's great and we really are this brilliant big family unit that rocks about the place.
Looking at how things are now I can't imagine how we used to knock about so free and easy, but I don't miss those days you know? We were into everything and it got pretty odd sometimes, always people around, always something to smoke or drink, always someone to chat to, laugh with or take the piss out of. It was great, but it's not me now. Now I'm quieter, I chose my words a little better, I'm older, but I hope I still have that spark of fun!
We talked about what I was going to do right? Well I did talk about writing and yeah, it took me a long, long time. I started in 2002. I found a lot of barriers, became aware that I was so far away from being where I wanted to be that I put it down again. I was a house husband for five years, did a whole load of crappy jobs and came out the other end and tried again. It was better second time around :-)
That's all unimportant stuff really though. What's important is that me and Mary are still together, still making our way, surrounded by the kids and it's good. Really good. Better than I ever could have imagined it being. Yeah, we have no money, fewer job opportunities and perhaps things are too tight for comfort, but what is life right? Is it just money? Is it just material shite and fucking acquisitions? I don't think so. Sure, I'd love to have a pile of cash but it's not important when matched to stuff like love, fulfillment and that weird soaring feeling I get whenever someone says they liked what I've written. So screw it! Life is stunning dude! That's the fact I wanted to impart.
In truth I have to say I miss you, or rather I miss the days we could have had. I figure you'd be out of the navy by now and doing something awesome and that we'd still be in touch. I can't say I know what you'd be doing but I figure you'd be doing it well and if you didn't like it you would have kicked it to the curb and be started on something new an hour afterwards.
I know we didn't always get on, not when we first met, but we had a total blast when we did finally click. Those times were great and you had my back. Thank you. I know we'd never say much more than this and so I'll just say I miss ya still, that whenever Hotel California or Wish You Were Here, or Sweet Child Of Mine and Paradise City comes on then I cast a thought to you. We wave when we drive past the graveyard and Sauraus was told all about you and knows that you would have been a part of his life as his Godfather.
Thank you for writing to me dude. I'm more glad that you did than words can ever really express.