Last week I was round my mum’s house when she got a phone call and when she uttered her friend’s name and then promptly ran out of the room with her worried voice in full effect I knew, deep down, what the call was about.
After she came back into the room and put the phone down I saved her the effort of needing to explain what the call was about.
My mate and I first met at primary school, I’d say about aged 4 and bonded over our interests in BMX bikes and He-Man.
He had Castle Greyskull. In fact he had all the bestest toys. I didn’t have toys to contribute to this relationship but I did have the vivid imagination that came with childhood. We spent most of school in a fairly large group (akin to a 6-person Stand By Me) and a good deal of the weekends and holidays were spent together due to us living close enough for our parents to trust us to go out on our own.
The bond between our families was curiously similar too, during our whole tenure of infant and primary school (up to 11 years old) we were the only kids whose parents had divorced and so both our mothers had bonded over that too, so much so that, come sleep-overs at each others houses; the line “and if you misbehave your mum have given me permission to smack you” was the promise made to each of us every time, not that it was every enacted.
My mate was always the more quiet and introverted one when we were at school or in a group but far more brash and fun-loving when with our mums. He was the first person to use my mum’s proper name, a fact that at that young age caused a bit of confusion “Who is this person whose name you are repeatedly mentioning?” being my usual internal dialogue.
We made daft tapes together. Me and him presenting radio programmes with silly characters, all of whom would probably have uncontrollable flatulence at some point during their “interviews”.
We went to the same high school, we were in the same form, but as we grew up and got put into different sets based on capabilities, the circle of friends we hung around in changed, we used to hang out and stay over, only they became less and less frequent.
Different colleges, different universities came and went but what was odd is that at least once a year we would bump into each other. Fate would have it that our paths would cross as each of us making our solitary journeys back to our own homes and that privacy would give us each a chance to chat and catch up, we were in our own world just like when we were kids.
Over this last week my mum began digging out old school photos, unlike myself and my friend, my mum and his mum had remained close.
The funeral was today, my first humanist ceremony and it was packed to the rafters. My mum was more upset than I was but talking to his mum gave them both some solace. His mum, like me, somehow knew this day would come; it was never going to make it any easier, she had had the misfortune to find him and what gave her comfort was that she could see in his face that he’d taken control, made his peace with himself and a world he was always off-kilter with and was now finally at peace.
He will now become another statistic in the gender and age-range that sees more suicides than any other and while a lot is made about depression and mental health and about talking about things and remaining positive there is always going to be a grim inevitability that surrounds certain people and sadly that is the thing those left behind have to come to terms with.
The way someone dies should never eclipse the way they lived.
To the larger world, a statistic he might be but to me he will always be Fiendish Fart-Head.
Thanks for reading.