It’s sad that in order for everyone to meet up in solidarity, warmth and a common bond, to catch up with long lost relatives, friends you haven’t seen for decades (or in fact an excuse for a good old chin wag with good friends that live round the corner, but you never normally manage to find the time), something tragic has to happen.
It seems there’s nothing quite like a wake to bring people together. To drown sorrows like they’ve never been drowned before, to intoxicate beyond grief into a renewed optimism and gusto for life. Monday I attended a memorial service and wake for someone who I wouldn’t necessarily consider a close friend, but he was an acquaintance and a member of a wider circle of friends, and I know how much he meant to so many people I would call good friends. There was never any animosity between us, I just think we didn’t ever hit it off only because we never got past pleasantries when seeing each other out and about. Friendly hellos, and nothing more. I’d always think “Damn I’d really love to get an opportunity to sit down and chew the fat with that man” as everyone only had good things to say about him, but in this case I think our mutual level of weariness-cum-shyness got in the way of that ever happening.
Having been aware of his artwork and skills since moving to Cardiff, I respected what he did and after all – we were in the same business, so often his graphics and ideas would spur me on and push me a little more.
He had a magnificent send-off and the days proceedings were certainly a celebration of all the things he did by the people he touched, with some truly passionate speeches by his loved ones who have been so strong. I know it’s the cheesiest thing to say, but all this has really hit it home hard that you only know what you’ve got when it’s gone. I’m learning to appreciate my friends and every waking moment I’m blessed with more than ever. I’ll be watching myself from now on and fighting not to give into apathy when invited to go out, to grab new opportunities by the scruff of the neck when they arise and stop thinking ‘there’ll be other opportunities’, because there might not well be another day ahead. It’s this life that’s for living, in the now.