How does one begin to express the sense of loss felt over the death of a close friend without resorting to cliche and platitiude. Perhaps it is best not to try, since such expressions become cliched because they embody instantly understandable emotions in a comfortingly familiar form and thus spare one the anguish of groping for words to express the raw and personal pain.
The fact is that my very dear friend Dee, also known as Fifie, died in hospital yesterday afternoon. While she did not seek to hasten death, she had long ago accepted her own mortality. Her health problems were far from trivial and it was inevitable that not even her will and determination would spare her body from finally losing the battle for life, given the odds stacked against her. I spoke to her briefly a couple of days ago; she sounded really dreadful, but went to great lengths to reassure me that she was in the best possible place to deal with her condition to spare me any worry. And that was typical of her – she rarely told people of her health problems unless she had to, preferring to live her life, and be treated by others, as normally as possible, and to spare those who did know unnecessary worry. Even when she did discuss her condition, she never complained or used it as an excuse, maintaining a stoicism and good humour that I doubt many people could match, even in less trying circumstances. She was also one of the nicest and most genuine people I knew, always enthusiastic to help people if she could.
I met Dee in the virtual world through an online tarot course about 6 years ago, and we hit it off fairly quickly, probably as a result of a shared passion for language, writing and literature – the tarot aspect was almost secondary, but we generally viewed that the same way too. We met in person early on and although we didn’t get together very often, we spoke regularly and usually at great length, covering an encyclopedic diversity of topics on our verbal rambles. Even under the most trying circumstances, it was extremely rare for us not to have a laugh, as we also shared a tendency to deal with adversity through humour. In good times and sometimes not, we laughed until we wept and the world seemed a better place. She had a turn of phrase that rolled around the tongue like a fine vintage wine and a ribald sense of humour that occasionally plumbed the dregs of taste and decency, but always in the spirit of harmless fun.
When I heard the news of her death, part of me was angry with the silly cow for not making more of a fuss about her deteriorating condition, for trying to spare me worry at the expense of my being able to say goodbye and tell her again how much I have appreciated her friendship. Mostly, though, I feel sorrow for the yawning chasm that the lack of her presence in my life will leave. I read through some of our many email exchanges last night and found some solace in still being able to hear her ‘voice’ there, but knowing that we will never speak again is hard to bear. Part of me still clings to the hope that it is just a bad dream and she will call me tomorrow with a few choice phrases on the matter that we can have a jolly good laugh over, but it is a vain hope and the reality is that the world will be a little dimmer, a little less joyous and a lot less entertaining with her passing.
I wish you peaceful rest, my friend, and will always be grateful to have known you, as will all those who knew and loved you. I invite your friends to join me in sharing their memories of you here.