A Wake

A friend of mine from way back passed away over the weekend. He was only 32 years old. He was younger than me. I attended his wake last night. His birthday is tomorrow.

He was a very strong fixture of the first four years of the 2000s. There were four of us, friends from college (they were still studying, I was working in school), and we were almost always together. Everyday, weekdays to weekends, and we were as thick as thieves.

I remember having done some of his assignments because there were subjects he felt were unnecessary, tedious, and boring. I was happy to do them. I lent him books on photography and film and gave him very constructive criticism on his artistic endeavours.

But we drifted apart, as friends who meet at such a young age do. I had switched jobs and could no longer hang out with them at school all the time. They eventually graduated and found jobs and explored the world. We were four, almost inseparable, but down the line, only one of them really remained my friend to this day. The other two went their own separate paths.

And now one has passed. This friend I hadn’t seen and really talked to since 2004. We bumped into each other once or twice but, having very little to talk about at the time except for the past, we were cordial and polite but kept our respective distance. Later on, we did see each other in parties and events but we didn’t even say hi. At the most, we’d smile at each other and continue on our business.

He’s now passed and with so much time between us, I really didn’t think I should go. I had said all that I could back in 2004 and I had said my good bye, in my own way, and felt that going would be superfluous. But all my other friends, especially the friend who was part of the circle of four, were all planning to go to the wake and when I told my brother, he just looked at me and said, “You should go.”

My brother knows me so well. He knew I had no intention of going.

I realised I never met his family. And I was not present at the time when he cooked for everyone in his house. I wasn’t invited or I couldn’t make it, at the time. I wasn’t there. The usual thing happens, rehashing stories of the past, amongst people I haven’t seen in ages. They talked about his last few days in the hospital. He had a brain infection or something. I filled out some parts of our personal history from my memory banks, which were more or less unaffected by an overflow of emotions. Everyone cried when they saw his body in the casket. When I came there, all I saw was that he was at peace. All I could say was, “It’s over now. It’s done. On to your next adventure.”

I spent most of the night making sure everyone was okay. They were. They all had their ugly cry the night before when we all got the news.

I’m not a sentimental person. And I’ve faced dying twice already, so I have a very different view of death than my friends. I’m emotional and sensitive and passionate, but I’m not sentimental.

There was a moment, last night, I felt like a cold monster. Like things didn’t affect me. But it lasted briefly.

Good bye, old friend. We had so much fun back in the day. It’s over now. It’s done. On to your next adventure.

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