His hands can’t remain still. He’s stirring the creamy chocolate he’s ordered moments ago. It’s late winter, or early spring, or is it the beginning of autumn already? I can’t remember. I hadn’t seen him in ages. I live in another country now, and he’s been to the hospital for so long. He wanted to die. He feels much better now. Of his hospital stay, he brought back some extra kilos but being on the chubby side suits him rather well. It doesn’t change his piercing green eyes which stare right at your soul. They become grey when he gets angry and a mellow shade of blue when he’s excited about something. He asks about Dublin, I describe my oh so exciting life in the Big Smoke, his favourite city. Mine too. “I’ll come and see you!” he promises. He kept his promise, twice. He’s that kind of friend.
I ask him how he feels. “Work’s ok…”, he says…he’s not one to easily confide. But he never lies either, so he tells me about it. “About what happened…” he begins. My heart starts racing. I hate to think that he wanted to die. Not him. And not again. I already lost a friend that way. And I can’t lose him, ever. “…I wanted to apologize”. My tea spoon drops from my hand: “apologize…?” I ask, slowly. “Yes, because I had made you a promise, after the previous time. I promised you to never hurt myself ever again, and I didn’t keep that promise”. I look hard into my memories. I remember various talks, I remember telling him not to give up on life, but I can’t seem to remember he owed anything to me, let alone a word. But he does remember, and it seems to bother him greatly to have failed his own promise. I wave that away: “Oh well, don’t mind me, it’s how you feel now that’s important”. He smiles. He’s so much better. You can see it. He looks forward to live. He’s full of plans for the future. He’s been to Canada with a cousin. He’s been to Peru with a friend. There are so many places he still wishes to see.
And then life, that bitch, stroke, again. Le temps d’apprendre à vivre, il est déjà trop tard, says that songs that keeps resonating in me. You learned to live ever so briefly and that phone call. Saying you were no longer here. And here I am, writing about it because that’s all I know.
The tears, the rampant anger, the nervous laugh: no, it can’t be true, you can’t be gone, my friend. He who never lost a loved one doesn’t know the value of every moment shared with that person until that person is gone. I cherish them all, those times, like little gemstones I fondly think of every now and then. On the motorway, by a sunny afternoon, The Dark Side of the Moon as you drove us back. Looking at the stars at midnight, alone in the mountains, on top of the world. Wandering through Dublin streets. Drinking that hot chocolate and savoring that you’re alive and well. Tell me, can you tell Heaven from Hell from wherever you are? I read that passage of The Little Prince in front of your stupid, stupid, stupid wooden box. In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…
Since then, there were many other skies. There were many other songs you loved or would have loved. I moved to a country you didn’t like, it would have made you laugh. And you would have come to visit and loved it in the end. I can hear you praising my little adventures once again. That rare benevolence I will forever miss. There are other friends, there are new friends, there are those who heal and those who break, those here for the long haul and those just passing, there are many other amazing souls that keep feeding mine. And there is you, in my mind, always. The memory of happier days that will not fade. Life goes on, they say. So happy birthday anyway, my friend.