I have a private client, a lovely woman who travels a lot for business. It’s always fun when I pick her up and we chitchat. “Oh” she said last year “you are living at the marina? You must meet my friend David.”
I have a friend that I met through a social initiative. We had coffee at the end of last year. “Oh” he said “You are living at the marina? You must meet my brilliant friend David. He’s working on a boat there.”
I wrote to David on Facebook. “Hey, when two people that are wonderful tell me that I should meet their friend, I figure that I should”
He responded by accepting the friend request. “Hi” he said on the 4th February 2021 “Nice to meet you” Except it worked it out that we didn’t meet. I was in a play and although we’d interacted on Facebook a couple of times, it just was too hard.
On the 18th of April, I wrote to David “Hi, if you are around it would be fun to meet – it’s the end of my work week and we could meet at the local.” No response. “Ah” I thought to myself “It’s New Zealand, we’ll run into each other in some funny way eventually”
On the 6th of May he posted this “Been a bit quiet…Induced coma for best part of four weeks. A bit more time in hospital..what you been up to?” on his Facebook page. He’d attempted to take his own life. Of course, I’d put a little huggy ‘care’ heart on his post, but I don’t really know him. What to say?
Time went by and I’d watch his incredible artwork on my timeline, the photos, the drawings. My god, his eyes, the way he sees things. His intelligent, interesting posts. Every once in a while bitterness would break through, the knowledge that his life had been better lived when he was younger.
I imagined that once he was back to himself there would be some event or something and we’d meet in person. His posts were increasingly upbeat. He cheekily started a GoFundMe for something in the order of $200K. I watched all the hijinks from afar, I suppose with the warm affection that I would posts from Stevie Nicks, or those new relatives that I have due to DNA testing. Interested, but not in a close way.
I think it must be one of the benefits of age that I can be glad someone exists without requiring that I be in that person’s life. I don’t need the validation of their attention to be glad that they are in the world, doing their thing.
I saw a post from his friend first and wrote to him “What happened to him?” I asked. He replied “He was just out for a walk, enjoying the spring and then he fell over, dead”
“What a cruel joke” I wrote back “That someone who had fought back from despair, regaining an interest in life, should be struck down so suddenly. I am so sorry to hear it”
My lovely client/friend wrote “I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but he has passed away.” I told her that I had and I was just so sorry.
Funny how they both assumed that I’d met him. I really hadn’t. The truth is, he had come to occupy a liminal space for me – not a friend; not, not a friend. A social media friendship made in a year compelled by Zoom meetings, no physical presence required.
I don’t have any particular message to impart, nothing could have been different. I’m just grateful that I got to observe. Godspeed you creative fellow. Catch you in the next now.