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9 – Sixteen Years

crow road

That day in the hospital. It was the first time I had seen you in a few weeks. I had been working nights, packing shelves at the supermarket. I missed Halloween night, yourself and the lads dressing up like gobshites and heading down to the local nightspot, getting hammered on vodka and red bull and hoping to score  a grope, maybe even more with a local slapper or two.  A few days later, you are back in the hospital and sick again. The cancer had returned. We had drifted apart as friends the last few months and I felt a bit nervous seeing you again. Of course, we were hopeful, your family were hopeful and you were as positive as I had seen you for a while when I arrived, joking and looking forward to the future, getting out of hospital and starting on a new path. I had no idea what would happen but I felt like everyone else, like you that you would fight it somehow, get better.

I felt I had let you down as a friend so I tried to reconnect with you. Iain Banks was one of your favourite authors so I bought a copy of one of his books for you to read; The Crow Road.  I hadn’t read him myself as yet but I knew a television version of the book had been on the tv recently but seeing as it was about a young man trying to make sense of his existence and with you sometime being a miserabilist young bastard like myself, I thought you could relate to it. And you seemed delighted with it. As we were talking that day, I’m sure we discussed the meaning of the books’ title but the meaning of it resonated with me even more after your passing, ‘Crow Road’ being a Scottish expression for death.  I didn’t know what would happen. We could barely imagine it. Dying was for the old, not for you. Someone like us, our age. Our friend. You would be laughing at me now for being this grotesquely sentimental I’m sure….

Jesus, get on with it!. Stop moping and moaning, get on with it.’

‘Okay, but before I go did you get to read the book at all?  I never got to ask you.’

‘Sure, I got to page 97. Now, see you later. And remember?’

‘Yeah, remember what man?’

‘Remember to have a good time, would you?’

‘Ah you know me, but yeah, I’ll try alright? I’ll try.’

‘Well for fucks sake, try harder.’

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