9 years on from writing this tribute after losing a much loved friend and it still feels like yesterday that the world was robbed of such a beautiful soul. Yet, when you consider how long it been since we last saw that trademark mop of unruly hair and cheekiest of grins, it feels more like a lifetime since we last laid eyes on you.
I was no stranger to death; I endured the loss of much loved relatives when I was younger but nothing could have prepared me for this pain. From the other side of the world, enclosed in a landmark Red London Phone Booth my life transformed from that of a carefree, cash-strapped backpacker to a broken hearted girl far too far from home.
Literally every moment of that excruciating call is seared in my mind; how my knees buckled and gave way, leaving me slumped against the chilly glass of the booth, my mind screaming “no, no, no, NO – not Shaggy, anyone but him, he’s too precious, too loved, too ALIVE to be taken from us.” How I felt bereft of breath, a fireball feeling ripping through my chest, leaving my heart splintering into a million little shards. How the busy, bustling noisy chaos that is the City of London abruptly ceased, leaving my world suddenly dark, silent and scary.
Sorrow and shock had arrived in my world in one mighty swoop, leaving my thoughts like a wildly out of control runaway train, simultaneously denying and comprehending this horrific truth. Yet time still surges forward, even if the scars left behind in your heart are never quite properly embalmed, nine years on.
So Adam, if you somehow get to see these words, or hear my thoughts, please know this: my grief is a badge of how adored you were by me, and I shall always regret never having the chance to say a proper goodbye at your funeral (something I pray you forgive me for). Though I suppose I can seek comfort from the last memory I have of you, my 22nd birthday, a mere few days before I’d fly out to London, and commence my overseas adventure. I still carry in my heart the words you left me with, a lasting beautiful memory to cherish.
In the searing pain of losing you, through the ruins that became the aftermath of my grief, you steered me back to a better place and eventually bestowed upon me two of life’s greatest gifts: my husband and my son.
“A match made in heaven” has never rung more true than when you (and your friend fate) led me into the path of Anthony Webeck, and now, you have made the circle complete by blessing us with our son.
He not only bears your name, but, I am convinced, your spirit. His Godfather Matty, is sure he has come in to our lives as a sort of replacement to you.
What I have learned through this almost decade long ordeal is that when you lose someone you love, you gain a Guardian Angel. Adam “Shaggy” Neville, you are ours. The many signs, too spookily co-incidental to ignore, such as your song being the first one I head the day my husband was to propose to me, or the morning I had my pregnancy confirmed, validate the feeling that you are never too far from our lives. You may not be seen in a physical sense, but your presence is forever felt. And I’ve no doubt our Harrison Adam, and your new baby nephew Adam Jay, will see to it as well that your legacy will live on eternally.