This is one of my more difficult posts. He is always on my mind and I will never forget him.
I know this might not all come across the way it does in my mind but words have failed me up to this point and I do need to address these feelings one way or the other.
I had a friend whom I met in a chat room, back when I was a teenager and obsessed with the Internet and chat rooms. I don’t remember now what caused our paths to cross but what connected us was the desire to cherish life and go for the things we wanted out of life.
He had left university after his first year believing there had to be more to life than the path he was originally going down. He moved from Derbyshire to London to make a name for himself and landed a successful career as a sports analyst. He would bet on games amongst other things and make his company vast amounts of money. He was also richly rewarded for his efforts and travelled a lot as a result.
He didn’t take anything in his life too seriously, a calm, thoughtful, mild and gentle human being. I have and will probably never meet anyone with such a kind and loving soul again. I was drawn in to his world like a magnet, fascinated at how he managed to have so much peace within him, even though his job was very stressful and often demanding.
I thought initially we might date but I didn’t really feel I was ready for a relationship with him. When I wanted to date it was with the intention of marriage and so it had to feel just right. Until then I chased boys and they ‘on occasion’ chased me. But with him, there was this mutual respect for one another that no matter how much either of us wanted a relationship, we both knew it wouldn’t be the right thing for us in the long run. He wasn’t the type for serious relationships and enjoyed his lifestyle while I was a home-bunny and loved being around my family. So we remained friends, living very different lives, coming together every few months and connecting on a deeply emotional level that was probably way beyond our years.
And then it all stopped. All of a sudden I stopped hearing from him. I tried to call and email but there was no response. I’m somewhat critical and deprecating of myself and just assumed I had said or done something that had damaged our friendship. Only a few weeks earlier had we arranged to meet. As he wasn’t responding I became more and more upset that I might have inadvertently hurt his feelings in some way. Days became weeks… became months…. became years.
I wondered about him and wished him the best that life could offer. He showed me that it was possible to live a life on your own terms, not the one dictated by circumstance. He was raised in a good home and had a path laid out already for him. However, he was brave and set out to achieve his dreams at any cost. He lived life and was loved by many people.
Then one day I happened to have my messenger application on while working on my computer and I noticed him come online, or so I thought. I said hello but the response I received back looked like the type you get from a spammer, irrelevant and not cohesive in the way it was written. I emailed him right away to ask whether he was still using that messenger account and that he might have been hacked. To my confusion I received spam emails back. I realised he wasn’t managing that email or msn profile a longer; maybe he’d decided to leave our friendship behind.
More years went on and my memories grew more and more distant.
While 8 months pregnant, on a break visiting my family in London, he came across my mind. He often would but this time and but for some reason I felt an irresistible urge to pick up my tablet and Google his name. I expected to see an active Facebook profile that would put a smile on my face. At first there were lots of matches but none of them were him. So my search intensified and I included his home town and adopted london-town in my search. Low and behold I found a crumb. I followed this crumb for about 10 minutes and finally saw an article about a missing person some 2 years earlier. I read the description and saw the names of some of his closest friends, whom I’d had met before. They were pleading for information about his disappearance and whereabouts. I began to get nervous and scared but continued to follow the breadcrumbs. To my horror, I found an old newspaper article describing that a man matching his description had been found submerged between a lock and a boat. It turned out he had started home alone after a night out, having had a little too much to drink, had stopped possibly to take a comfort break and had lost his balance and fallen into the water in Camden Lock. It had taken nearly a whole week to find him. No foul play was suspected as he had a pocket full of money, and was otherwise unharmed. He never seemed to use cards and preferred to carry wads of money around.
I burst into tears as I read on. Before I saw the name I knew it was my dear friend. I knew I had lost him, never having the chance to say goodbye. What made it so much worse was that here I was blaming myself for pushing my friend away when all the while he had passed away. I broke down. For days I was paranoid that anytime I said goodbye to someone they might not come back. I even had search parties conducted for one of my sisters after she didn’t come back home when she said she was going to while I was in London. I was beside myself with worry believing that anyone who was late to call me or late to show up for an agreed meeting might be lying somewhere lifeless. I needed hugs and support from my family and husband for some weeks after I returned home to South Wales.
I couldn’t contact his family or friends. Too much time had passed and they would have already come to terms with their terrible loss and it would be mean make them relive the moments they found as though it had only just happened.
I read later that he had a good funeral, that one of his best friends keeps his name alive by running in the London marathon every year to raise money for the missing persons organisation. I also read that his disappearance had been televised and some high profile celebrities had joined in to appeal for information about his whereabouts. A simple man who was loved by many.
He lived life on his terms and was a happy and peaceful soul. I will never forget him.
This is my attempt to come to terms with this loss because even though I didn’t know at the time it happened, it feels like I’m finding out all over again every time I think of him.
May you rest in peace my dear friend and may you have favour in Heaven as your final resting place.