Last week we did some spring cleaning. Actually, it's October so technically it should be autumn, but you know what I mean. As part of the giant tidy up, I moved all the photos in the living room to one place along where the two CD storage units are. Remember, the ones that you clubbed together to buy us as a wedding gift? And there you were. In a carousel frame with other great pictures of our wedding, arm in arm with Ru, beaming with happiness. I've looked at this photo more often this week than I have in the eleven years since it was taken because you're not here any more, and we miss you.
I honestly thought it was a typo or that somebody had hacked her phone when I got the text on Wednesday. Your wife, my friend, had to break the shocking news that you weren't here any more. I really believed it was a bad joke and that I'd get a text in another second telling me that it was wrong and not to worry. The second text removed all hope and time stood still. I sat at my desk in work completely immobile while my mind raced ahead. She's a widow. How will she cope? How will I tell Ru? Then it was my turn to shatter somebody else's day as I hit redial on my phone to my husband, not knowing how to tell him that our friend, a man we loved and cherished, was gone forever. I heard his heart break with every word I spoke and mine broke too. That was just the start of the heartbreak.
I saw you on Friday but you weren't there. You had gone, as your gorgeously funny son with a dry wit just like yours told me, to heaven with a huge flatscreen TV and a remote to hog all to yourself. I kissed and hugged your wife, trying to make it better but failing miserably. I held my friend's hand at your removal as we cried, treasuring memories of your love of black and white movies. Yesterday, I did it all again, holding onto Ru like a lifebelt while the priest spoke about love and compassion and the Lourdes choir sang so beautifully. You had no idea how much you were loved, my gentle friend. The church was packed with family, colleagues, friends and people who truly appreciated your wisdom and kindness. The priest reminded us all how devastating depression is, and how it can overshadow even the purest love. The darkness won.
We found two white feathers at home yesterday. I'm not a superstitious person but I believe that these are gifts from somebody in heaven. From you. And when we head to the 3Arena next month to see your favourite band, we'll be thinking of you and wishing you were sitting beside us again to tell us once again the story of how you met Bono in the loo of the Shelbourne Hotel (and didn't sneak a downward look). I can't promise that I'll hold it together, especially when they play Stuck in a Moment because that song has been in my head since Wednesday morning.
Sleep tight, our gentle friend. We love you.