You died a year ago today. It doesn’t feel like a year. Sometimes it feels like yesterday the grief as fresh and savage as a wild animal gnawing in my chest. Other times it feels like decades have passed since we lost you and the world got colder, darker and a lot less fun.
I talk to you everyday. You never answer but that’s OK I know that if you could, you would. In the year since you died the shock faded into numbness, rage, grief and bittersweet nostalgia before cycling back round again. I listen to the playlist I made and it makes me cry and laugh all at once.
Sometimes I dream of you and in those dreams I forgot your dead. When I wake up, for a moment you’re alive. Then I remember and salt meet wound! Seeing you in dreams is cold comfort when all I want is to spend an afternoon chatting shit with you. ‘All’, as if I would ever be satisfied with an afternoon: friendship has made me greedy. For a long time I tried to convince myself that you’re just abroad, somewhere where I am unable to contact you. But I could never quite believe the lie. Half glimmers of you and dreams could never be enough.
I try to remember you but I feel like I am losing bits and pieces on after one and that is like a thousand tiny deaths. I was never as good at remembering as you.
‘Trying to remember you
is like carrying water
in my hands a long distance
across sand. Somewhere
people are waiting.
They have drunk nothing for days.’
Stephen Dobyn, Grief
Do you remember the school trip to Germany and Prague when we were 15? Dorm rooms, being mistaken for prostitutes and streaking across the corridor to the showers = good clean fun! In Prague our guide told us that if we touched the cross on Charles Bridge and made a wish it would come true. So many girls made wishes about love. But we placed our hands on the gold cross together and vowed to be best friends forever. And we will be. Not even death can take that from me, when he has taken so much else. Last year before you died one of my worst fears was that I would do or say something that hurt or offended you. And you would die before I could make it right. Even though you were the most reasonable teflo- proof person I know. I finally I told you, quivering with fear. And you laughed and called me a silly cow, ‘as if we could ever stop being best friends.’
Next week, I’ll be 31 but you’ll always be 30. For the first time I will be older than you who always called me ‘a fetus’. It reminds me of the Ode of Remembrance:
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.’
This isn’t a pain that can be lessened just something to be endured.
The day you died it was beautiful bright sunshine. One year on the weather is finally playing ball and it’s grim here in Brighton.
I read this quote and it reminded me so much of you. Salman Rushdie said of Angela Carter, one of my favourite novelists. ‘Death snarled at her and she gave it the finger. Death tore at her and she stuck out her tongue. And in the end she lost. But she also won, because in her furious laughter, in her blazing satirising of her own dying… she cut death down to size: no distinguished thing, but a grubby murderous clown. And after showing us how to write, after helping us see how to live, she showed us how to die.’
My friend after showing me for years how to live you showed me how to die.
What I want to say more than anything is that I miss you. I really, really do. But you already knew that 🙂
Love your bestest westest friend,