When A Treasured Friend Dies

Yesterday, after the initial shock had worn off (somewhat), I took to Twitter:

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A day later, I still feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. I’m sure you too have lost someone in a surprising death. We all know theoretically we will lose friends and family, yet we are never really fully mentally prepared for when we do.

* * *

It is stomach-churning when we reflect on how we will never see a treasured friend ever again. I can still picture English, of Indian parentage, Kam, late last summer, the last time I saw her in person. At a picnic organized by mutual Irish friends, our small group, which included some young children, sprawled out on blankets in the grass in parkland outside of Dublin.

Everyone enjoyed the irony of Kam at a picnic. With her dry sense of humor and ability to laugh at herself, she did too.

Because Kam was NOT “the picnicking,” toss a frisbee, kick a soccer ball, drink out of a paper cup, sort. No way. She was much more the pricey hotel, I’ve just had my hair done, look at these new shoes, dress stylishly for the posh restaurant and enjoy a glass of expensive Champagne, type.

Nevertheless, rather overdressed and sitting on the hard ground with the rest of us, a hot sun beating down, she soldiered on admirably. At one point, as she shifted awkwardly and struggled to eat off a paper plate, her bemused expression was priceless. Moments later, referring to where she was staying, with her charming smile she whispered to me in her soft English accent and giggled, “You know, Rob, The Four Seasons is very comfortable.”

I nearly burst out laughing. It was one of those moments we never forget. Now, I know for sure I NEVER will.

* * *

I wasn’t going to share this which follows. But I’ve changed my mind. Thinking about doing so is lifting my crushed spirits a bit, so here we go….

Kam queried me also about the novel she had heard I was working on, and wished me well with the effort. It was a weird feeling as we sat there and she was asking me about it, and I was not telling her she was partly the inspiration for one of the characters: “Valérie.” I have no regrets about not telling her, however, as I never would have told her she was even if she had lived on.

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As we said goodbye, again I became conscious of that awful, yellow coloring to her eyes that is associated with liver trouble. She never would have told us how bad the condition might be, or that it might be worsening. It would have been just like her to have kept that to herself and not burden her friends.

Something instinctively made me hug her a bit tighter and a little longer than I would have usually.

Now that Kam’s life is over, as I write more “Valérie” for the sequel, Kam will certainly crowd my thoughts. Elements of her will once again make their way onto the pages. I suppose, for me, she is now living partly in that character forever.

Is that one release writing grants us? The ability to set aside death? To keep alive, albeit only through some wholly inadequate words and phrases, something of those whom we cherished?

* * *

Shortly after hearing the awful news, teary and angry, the “F”-word thoughtlessly came flying out of my mouth. My wife, distraught herself, pulled me up: “Who’s that helping?! Kam would never do that! That’s not gonna help her!”

And my wife was absolutely right, of course. Kam, rest in peace. We already miss you more than we can ever say, and we always will.

For all of us others still stuck in this life, let’s try to have a good Monday.

Finally, considering all of the other masses of stuff out there to read on WordPress and the wider net, thank you very much for reading this post. I know it is easy to click away. I appreciate that you didn’t.

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