It’s been almost thirty five years to the day since you left us. Eighteen or so months more since a civil word passed between you and I and the time has come at last for me to embrace and own my grief.
I can almost hear you laughing at that and saying “Well, it’s about bloody time.” I always was a bit slow emotionally. You knew that though didn’t you? You knew me. I knew you. We were more than mates. We trusted each other implicitly – until that day I severed the connection – then it didn’t seem to matter, except that it always did.
Yet, I did not grieve when you left. I was too angry. Angry with you, me, Michelle, and countless other bit players in what was a stupid and pointless conflict that should have been put to bed the day after it started.
But I am a stubborn bastard and a cold one at that. I’d cut off my right arm rather than admit that I was wrong and by cutting you off, I may as well have done just that. You know why as well as I do.
We were night and day, yin and yang, fire and ice – totally different but near inseparable. We brought out the best and worst in each other, constantly striving to outdo ourselves for outrageous stupidity and daring each other to take the next stupid death defying step. We never acknowledged the reasons why we behaved the way we did, we just knew that we understood each other and that we had each other’s back.
I liked to think I was smart – but you were the emotionally intelligent one and could see through my bullshit easily. You’d call me out on it and make me face up to who I was and what I could be. No one else did that – they just thought I was either bad, sad, mad or or a combination of all three.
So, I trusted you and let you see behind the walls I’d built and you worked bloody hard to make me pull those walls down and let others in. It was a fruitless task. Maybe if you’d stuck around, you might have succeeded then again, maybe not.
When you first left town I made promises to you that I thought I could keep. I did my best and was glad to do so even though it caused me to lose connections with people that I should have kept close. I don’t blame you. I should have been capable of juggling more than one ball at a time but I wasn’t. Shit happens. We make our own choices.
Then you came back and it was just like old times. Except that it wasn’t. You’d changed. So had I. I was too quick to judge – too holier than thou and too much of a hypocrite. So I said things that must have hurt and I made a conscious decision to avoid you.
Hooray for me – I managed to remove my nose to spite my face in one swift clean decisive cut.
Without your openness and honesty to balance my darkness, I was a lost soul. All traces of warmth left me. Those walls I’d built received some serious fortifications and I basically lost all sense of decency and propriety. It’s ironic isn’t it? I’m sure that you could see what I’d become. We still moved in circles that intersected enough for you to know that I was losing it.
I certainly followed your adventures. They were kind of hard to miss, as you managed to make the front page of the Geelong Advertiser on more than one occasion.
“That’s Chris,” I’d think when I read the reports, “he really hasn’t changed – he’s still the rebel.”
And so it went. Weeks before your death, I saw you sitting in the cab of a furniture van as it drove up Moorabool Street You were laughing your head off at some joke – it was pure you – full of life and joy – living in the moment as you always did. It’s that memory that remains with me as does the thought that ran through my mind – it’s time to catch up and bury the hatchet. I had similar thoughts on the day you died.
Sadly, I never got to act on those thoughts. I thought that we were both indestructible and that there was plenty of time. We both played close to the edge – you more so than me (by the barest of margins), but we were going to live full lives. We’d been through the worst of it, or so I thought. You just skated too close to the edge once too often and all those apologies and confessions that needed to be made were blown away
Our ongoing battle had caused collateral damage in my life. I had pushed the arms I could have cried in away and so I willed myself not to grieve but to carry on regardless with my futile anger.
Then, I let you down. I found that I could not keep the promise I had made all those years ago.
The night after the funeral, we all went to the pub. I pretended it didn’t matter. I pretended that I didn’t care and behaved as if nothing was the matter. But everything was wrong. I could not bring myself to face Michelle. I did not have the guts. I turned my back and shrunk away from all that you held dear. I failed you in life and in death.
I am truly sorry.
It’s only been in the last little while that I’ve really dared to look at those days. God, I once lived no more than four hundred metres from your resting place and never thought of paying you a visit. I guess part of me was still angry and still reluctant to admit how much I missed you.
A couple of weeks ago, I summoned up the courage to finally visit your grave. I wasn’t prepared for the wave of emotion that swept over me. Indeed, I haven’t been that prepared for the waves of feelings that I am experiencing writing this. I stood in silence, choking back sobs, and sending my thoughts into the universe.
Those thoughts weren’t much. I was always a little slow on the emotional side but they were heartfelt. Essentially they were the things I never said
I miss you.
I remember days at Eastern Beach, just talking shit for hours.
I remember listening to Eruption the very first time and proclaiming it to be overdubbed while you laughed and called me the most cynical bastard you knew (you were right).
I remember countless times where your charm saved us from a ride in the divvy van.
I remember your ability to take a tired well worn joke phrase like Jober as a sludge, make it your own and make me laugh at how fresh and new it sounded.
I remember trying to sing Bohemian Rhapsody clutching what was left of a flagon of Jim Beam while you laughed hysterically at my misinterpretation of the lyrics.
Most of all I always remember you charging at the world head on with a full head of steam and a gleam in your eye that said “I’m all in”
There are days that I just wish I could ring you and talk.
There are days when your voice sounds clear in my mind and your laughter rings in my memory.
Other days I catch myself smiling at a half remembered rant or a foolish prank carried out by one of us.
I more than miss you mate I love you as my brother and I feel your loss in the depths of my soul.
I am so sorry that it ended the way it did.
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