I’m not going to use my friend’s name. Let’s just call her C. It’s probably pointless as you could probably figure it out if you tried.
C was a friend of mine from my Carleton University days in the latter half of the 90s. Not just a friend, a good friend, a best friend. C and I would ride the 118 from Kanata’s Hazeldean Mall to the University almost every day together. We were in the same classes. We had the same friends. She knew all my secrets. She listened to my dumb jokes (and I listened to hers).
When our friend Jeff joined Amway, and he insisted we come and hear all about it, she and I made a pact that we’d brave the multi-level marketing madness together. And then she bailed on me via email just before he came by in his little hatchback to pick us up. It’s something I can laugh at now.
We were Facebook friends too of course. Not close Facebook friends, but I saw her wall and she saw mine.
So it was quite distressing to see an R.I.P. post appear suddenly.
Of course I clicked it when I saw it. C was my age, maybe a touch younger. Surely this couldn’t be right.
This is the Twenty-Teens. This is how we find out.
Is this my fault? Probably, but you know that you have these friends too. Those ones that were close, but over time, you’ve drifted a little. Not a lot, you see them on Facebook or Instagram. You see they’ve run a race, or are eating thai. They’ve gone on a weekend to Vegas. Their daughter won a tae kwon do tournament. They’re living their lives and everything is cool. Until one day, suddenly, they’re not living their lives.
Suddenly one day there’s an RIP message. “C, you will be missed. Rest in Peace.” A message from a friend that you don’t know because they’re from your friend’s new life.
You drop everything and scour the page. But there’s nothing, just this message. And then, soon, another.
But no details.
How is this remotely fair? You have no details. And no way to get details. Who do you message? Where do you post? This is how you find out someone important to you has passed away. Through a f*@%ing Facebook post.
And then, even that scant piece of information disappears.
Some of the RIP messages had been removed because a cousin of C’s was writing the authors asking them to take them down. The RIP was premature.
C is in the hospital, in the intensive care unit, in a critical condition.
Why? Still no information. No one has posted any information about exactly what happened yet.
But really, can you blame C’s family or partner? Can you blame them, imagining them in a hospital waiting room, waiting, praying, hoping.
Did she have a partner? None listed on Facebook. How is it that someone who was so influential in my life has so many question marks about her now? Why don’t I even know her any more. C was my best friend. We were together more often than not in 96 and 97.
Eventually a message is posted. She had a stroke, and surgery to alleviate swelling on the brain. That doesn’t sound so bad. She’s young, younger than me.
I will reconnect with you C. Just pull through. Let me reconnect, and let you know how much you mean to me, and how much I miss you.
For a day I have hope that she’ll pull through.
(It’s because her family wanted to control this information that I haven’t used C’s full name in this post.)
Eventually, one of C’s family messenges me on Facebook. “C has joined Jesus in the Eternal Kingdom.” I know her family is deeply religious. I know they’ll need that strength their faith gives them to deal with this catastrophe; their daughter & sister has died.
Eventually her brother posts a message to my friend’s Facebook, confirming everything.
Her brother, I remember him. He’s burned into my brain, eternally 17. I can’t imagine him 18 years later with a wife and two children as he says in the obituary. He’s just a kid.
I think of old usenet group we both used to post on constantly. One of those alt groups. Does usenet even still exist? Some searching and Google connects me with my life 18 years ago.
This is how I remember C. We posted in that group constantly. It was an alt group of less than a dozen people. And we acted like we owned it. There are hundreds of posts, between C and I, and of course Jeff. Our lives, almost everyday from 1998. I read them all night and remember days long past. It’s not just C’s brother who was a kid; I can’t believe how young I was. And foolish and arrogant. I smile at my younger self. And I am reminded how much of a friend C was.
We like to smugly say that for our generation, we didn’t broadcast foolishness on social media like kids today do. But here’s a near daily log of idiot interactions that we had no problem posting and near twenty years later I could find. Early adopters, I suppose.
I’ll never get this back. I’ll never reminisce with her.
Like all those close friends, she helped mould me into who I am today.
I never got to tell her what she means to me.
Mend your fences. Tell your old friends how much they mean to you. Because life goes on, but one day without warning it won’t.
Contrary to popular belief, the five stages of grief of the Kübler-Ross are not a sequence. You can actually bounce between them. They are not necessarily in order. You can be half way through Depression when you’re bounced back to Denial, then go into Bargaining.
And maybe you’ll skip steps.
Maybe Acceptance will come soon. But considering I have no clever way to end this post, I know I’m nowhere near Acceptance yet. Maybe this post will help, maybe it won’t.
Nothing I write here will be meaningful because death is an absurd concept that is so incredibly painful to deal with.
Some I can deal with better than others. But C’s death, man it just hurts. It just hurts.
I suppose the best I can come up with is this:
Remember that time you got really into ska? I thought it was ridiculous. I didn’t like it. I mocked you the way friends mock each other for their terrible choice in music.
Remember that song you kept playing in your car? I told you I hated it, it was a stupid song. It was Bumblebee Tuna by Mephiskapheles.
I know this because it was an earworm that I eventually liked.
It’s a damn catchy tune, and it’s actually one of my power songs. Yes, when I’m trying to get psyched up for something like a presentation, there’s a good chance my headphones are in and I’m listening to Bumblebee Tuna.
Thank you for giving me this.
Thank you for everything, and goodbye.