A letter. Never sent, never read


My Dear Friend,

I was shocked to hear your awful news. It’s been a few days now but I still can’t believe it.
I don’t understand. I have questions – so many. Mostly they begin with why? and then, how? How could you do this when you went to such lengths to care for others? I don’t understand where you got that kind of strength and resolve. Did you save it all up, hoarding a secret reserve? Then I wonder if you gave too much? Did we take too much leaving you nothing? Tell me honestly.

The grief comes in unpredictable waves punctuated by all the lovely memories of you. They’re all lovely, I’ve tried to think of something bad but there really are none. One in a million weren’t you my sweet. Your humour so dead pan – dry as the dessert. I’d be howling! Crying! But you, Mr Straight face, wouldn’t flinch. You laughed with your eyes. I remember your deep caramel voice with a smidge of huskiness thrown in. Using words like ‘toptastic’ and ‘chortle’ without a hint of irony. I suggested you should be on the radio. You told me you had a face for the radio – you could never take a compliment. I found a couple of mix tapes you made for me and remembered your love of music. You picked up music from wherever you travelled – you were always away having adventures. I called you Mr Claypole from Rentaghost.

I remember when you stepped in and ‘had a word’ when that idiot from art school got weird and too friendly. How I embarrassed you by asking for a signature on my copy of The Guardians of Time. You put my cat, Jinx, in it and apologised for making him a girl. Our shared love of New York – my suggestion that you get a cat and call her Madison – you got a metal ornament made of nuts and springs – I mocked you and rolled my eyes. My gentle, jovial friend with the giant, beautiful heart. Are you blushing yet?

I’ll have more memories by the end of today. After. We’ll sit and remember you together with the love and deep respect we have always had for you.

Then I start filling in the memories with fantasies – otherwise known as the ‘if only’s’. An imaginary time machine. If only:
– I’d called
– Said the right thing
– Let you know how important you are
– How proud I am of your achievements

I’d introduce you as my published writer friend and we’d laugh at how we discussed our respective book ideas so long ago. You wrote your books, published them and managed your own book tour while I was still thinking about it! You’d be embarrassed by the attention but feel needed – maybe.

I would go to a time before that day and tell you how much I missed you – I really have. I would plan a visit with my children and you’d have to stay. You’d never let us down so you’d stay and keep your word because that’s what you did. We’d come and tell you how you fill a Chris sized space perfectly in our lives and you’d smile with your eyes and deflect the compliment with a bit of self deprecation…

Would that have stopped you? Am I placing too much importance on my word?
Who am I that I could make that difference to you? I don’t know but I should have known. I should have tried.

I’m so sorry my friend. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I left you too long. I know you felt everything but I assumed too much. The most costly mistake. I’ve been to dark places and found my way back – I could have shown you the way. You reached out. I patted your hand and gave it a squeeze. I should have known better. I should have taken your face in my hands and told you… I’m back at the time machine.

I say prayers. I pray angels take you by the hand and show you peace. That you are better now and the light of the sun warms the chill from your bones.
I pray you find heaven.
I pray for forgiveness.

I want you to know that I’m thankful for you – always giving but reluctant to take. I feel honoured to have known your kind heart; your generosity of time and thought, your gentle soul. Thankful that you touched my life but I didn’t tell you that, I just assumed you knew – how absurd!

I want you back – like the brattish child asking for the impossible. Is my sadness at the loss of you more than the sadness you felt? The anguish you felt so strongly you took yourself away? Can you see us now? Do you see how much you meant? Would you have still gone? I wonder how much we can suffer before the need to take action? What are our limits? What I wouldn’t give…?

My dear friend I miss you so much.
Maybe you could visit me in a dream?
Come soon. K?