The downside to having a memory-bank that makes an elephant look forgetful, (such as I do) is that certain dates and events stay frozen forever more, and always within your subconscious reach. For me, one of these is the day I would last speak to a dear friend of mine, Adam, who the world was robbed of far too soon, when he was just 24 years old. While the date of death is of course indelibly etched into my mind, it also translates that I carry with me the date we were to have our last ever conversation.
I can still picture the scene clearly: It was a Saturday (therefore I was hungover)and was heading out bleary eyed and early to a Travel Writing seminar in south London. It had been an emotional week with some strange events from home sending me reeling. As much as I was loving this new chapter in my life, on that particular day I was homesick. I had arrived early to the course, and spying a landmark red London telephone booth, I suddenly craved a connection with “home”.. .
Even now I am not quite sure what made me ring Adam, of all people. Perhaps it was my intuition, perhaps it was just pure luck the eve of his 24th his birthday was approaching and I decided to surprise him with a phone call. I was living on the other side of the world and gearing up for my European backpacking adventure, watching every penny I was spending. So considering how expensive it was to even ring home to my parents to let them know I was alive and well, it had to be a force stronger than I can explain that lead me towards that trademark telephone booth and dial his digits.
All I can say now is that I am eternally grateful that I did… Because it would be the last time we spoke, and the memory of that phone call, his voice, his surprise, his happiness still burns brightly in my mind. I still have the email he sent me days after, thanking me for being one of the only people who actually remembered it was his special day…
Since replaying those events in my mind the last few days, I suddenly found there a poem tumbling forth from within. Poetry is so not my prose forte, yet the words just seemed to flow. So “Shaggy”, as we look towards what would have been your 34th birthday in a few day’s time, this one is for you…
It’s been 10 years since we’ve spoken
And there’s simply so much yet to tell
Our hearts remain hollow and broken
Our tears still fill an endless well
The decade has been dotted with events
Welcoming births and witnessing weddings all around
Mine especially were heaven sent:
Without losing you, my beautiful son and my one true love, would not have been found
I suppose I shouldn’t be sad
At all the milestones you’ve missed
What a view you must have had
From where you sit high above in heaven to bear witness
Despite this, there’s still no denying
Losing you was a hurt I’d never known before
It will leave you reeling: a simple thought, a memory, a feeling
Crushing you with heartache, pain, and so much more.
Yet you have granted me gifts for which I remain truly grateful
A husband and child who I so adore,
Playing cupid from beyond has made my life wonderful
With them I could want for nothing more…
So, despite our sadness we will toast this next birthday of yours,
And savor the remembrances of your cheeky smile and wit
I will find a quiet moment to pause
And seek comfort from the flames of memories that remain freshly lit