Who knew?

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  5. Reflections on kettles and confusion.

I heard about his death from a mutual friend. I had been out for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants – great view of the ocean and beach – and I got a text. My friend was on holiday – Greece, I think – and I knew he was having a tough time with the stuff of life and I presumed he wanted to chat about that. About life.


When we eventually spoke, he said, “Our friend has died.” I don’t remember much of the rest of the conversation. I can imagine how it went.


Our friend had been an alcoholic for years and his death had long been expected. He had been admitted to a hospice, for the elimination of doubt.


I had lost touch with him for over 27 years. This happens. The stuff of life. Then with a year left for him to live, we got back in touch. It was wonderful, rolling back time, laughing at all the stupid things we got up to, and all the time we spent smoking cigarettes and drinking beer as if we needed it to survive.


In the end, it was wine and morphine he needed to survive. He had a physical dependency on alcohol and it – the thing that was killing him – was also the thing he needed to stop shaking and to function. He seemed happy enough and never sounded terribly drunk – sometimes just a little.


We talked about his imminent death, but we did it in a way that allowed us not to dwell on it. We pretended it was someone else.


This preparation for the inevitable end was no preparation at all for the bottomless sadness we all experienced and continue to experience. He is missed every day. The fact that we know death is inevitable is no help at all.


Who knew?


All of us.

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