Not close friends. Just two people that I have known for an incredibly long time and have many awesome memories of.
My friend Helen passed away at the beginning of the month, victim of a peanut allergy. I didn't know Helen amazingly well - not as well as she knew me. She was an agony aunt to almost everybody around here and had an almost psychic ability to tell when people were in pain and was always ready to lend an ear, a shoulder and a joke to lighten the mood. She wasn't one to talk about herself. Instead favouring talking to others about themselves and issues they were facing. She was a surrogate mum, sister and auntie to almost everyone. I regret not taking the time to coax more information out of her. But I appreciate the way she always made me feel better about everything. I always said goodbye to her with a smile.
Today I received the news that another friend of mine passed earlier this week. A victim of his own demons and yet another devastating loss. Alan was a genuinely lovely guy. Always had a smile and time for a chat. He was only 26 - 5 years younger than me and gone too soon. He was the sound engineer for my first bands gigs, he was someone to hang out with and chain smoke with when I was bored, and one drunken night, someone to make out with. He often hung out in the DJ booth with me when I was DJing in our local alternative night club and he always had amusing anecdotes and stories. Never any enemies and never a bad word against him. The world is genuinely missing a ray of light now he's gone.
I'm sitting on my sofa, in my Marvel pj bottoms and Doctor Who t-shirt, chain smoking and thinking about these two people. When people die, everyone says how lovely they were, how genuinely likeable they were, and how they'll be missed and nothing I have to say is any different but it is different. It's personal. I knew these people. I loved these people. In my own special way. And I feel their loss so very deeply. It's made me think of my own mortality. I wonder who will grieve me when I'm gone. I wonder who will say I touched their lives... I wonder if anyone will be grateful that they knew me. I'm grateful that I knew Helen and Alan. I'm glad I got to spend time with them while they were here. I'm sad that they've gone. I grieve for them and I cry for them. And I hate that life has to continue without them. School runs, dogs barking, medical appointments, politics... All these things continue unabated. Not everyone realises that these people existed. And that breaks my heart. I just want to shout from the rooftop "they were here. They lived. They breathed. They laughed and they cried and they influenced so much of the world around them and you carry on as if they were nothing!"
The world should stop. If only for a moment. Just to honour these people. And everyone else before them. But of course that's a ridiculous concept. One that both Helen and Alan would laugh at me for. The world is full of death. Every day millions leave this life, leaving behind them sorrow and memories and there are no moments long enough to honour them all. It's only the wish of a grieving heart and nothing more.
Everyone grieves differently but it will always feel the same. It's a shared emotion. Groups of people all feeling a loss. Pain is subjective but you can never truly feel what someone else feels. But we can guess. We all come together in times of joy and sadness - feeling similar to each other but never truly the same. In our grief we feel sadness that the ones we lost are gone but joy that they were once here. But it's also a private, personal grief. Something no one else will ever truly feel or understand because it is just that. Personal. And it sucks.
They say that time heals all wounds and in my experience this is true. But the problem with time is that it just takes too damn long. So I know that eventually my private, personal grief will dissipate and though I'll never forget them, it will become less painful, but until then I must go through the motions and stay strong. Just like everybody else does with their private, personal grief.