Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Only the good die young

A well known saying, and a great Billy Joel song, of course.

All this nostalgia has had me thinking about old friends again, especially those who are no longer here.

The first friend that I lost joined the Paratroopers when we left school. He was good looking, short and stocky - if he hit someone they stayed down. At first things went really well for him, he loved army life, got married and had a child. Then things took a bad turn - one of his squad was shot and killed by the IRA while standing next to my friend. My friend lost his nerve and was withdrawn from active duty which he hated. His family life suffered and they eventually separated. One New Years Eve, he decided he could not do it any longer and took his own life.

There was a small group of girls who took to hanging around with the band I was in. One of them took up with our self-styled mentor. The band split and we all lost touch. Then the girl (now a young woman) moved into a place down the road from us - she was heavily pregnant and on her own. We took to looking after her, fed her, my wife was even her birthing partner when she had her baby boy. A few weeks later she moved on and we did not see her again. A couple of years later we heard that she had committed suicide by setting herself on fire. This still haunts us - what could possibly have happened to her to make her do that? Her son is how grown up, I see him from time to time with his father. I doubt he knows that my wife was the first person to hold him.

My final lost friend was one of my best friends in my late teens. The title of this post is dedicated to him as it was him that introduced me to Billy Joel. This guy had a natural tendency to be a bit over weight, so he became fanatical about running, cycling, martial arts and playing badminton. Sunday afternoons were always spent with him and his brothers playing Dungeons and Dragons or similar games, after which we would head to the local pub for a few beers and then on to the Chinese take away for mega greasy pancake rolls. He was killed by a car one night while cycling home from playing badminton. I had ridden my motor bike along the same stretch of road only 10 minutes before.

Terri always seems to think that I have a positive outlook on life, so let me finish on this (assuming anyone has actually made it this far!). Readers who have been with me for a while might remember a post where I wrote about a dream I had shortly after I lost my daughter. In this dream I was in a place that, for want of a better word, must have been heaven. My daughter was there, and very happy. So were these three people that I have just written about. I take strength from that.

18 comments:

Terri said...

I have really been enjoying these trips down memory lane. This one was especially touching. It's so hard to imagine, when we're young, that not everyone we know and love is going to be on this earth for the long haul. I'm sorry for the loss of your friends and you still continue to amaze me with your positive outlook, in spite of the trials you've had to endure.

Ali said...

*gets it*

Arthur Dent said...

And after stopping by and reading this...

I think our little Princess is probably right. Thanks for stopping by, I'll do the same, more often.

Rock Chef said...

Terri - Thanks. I was worried that it might be a bit too "down" which I guess it is. Happier posts to follow!

Ali - Thanks.

Arthur Dent - My posts are usually happier than this one, so I look forward to seeing you again.

Jen said...

It is hard to imagine that the people we grew up with or, more so, were close to may not be here for our entire life. It's a sad thought.

But your ending, your dream, gave pause & hope. It is something we can look forward to amongst the loss.

May your friends rest in peace and God bless their souls.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

Stopped in via Terri's blog ...
Reading through this post, I was not expecting the ending with your dream. I have had similar dreams, and think they do carry a true meaning.

Kiki said...

Rock Chef...Sometimes when I'm driving all by myself I scream "Daddy" as loudly as I can, usually repetitively...when does the sense of loss stop sucking??? I never dream about him, but I wake up in the morning and feel like I overslept, only to realize that its my dad not being...that makes me feel that way. {{sighs}} Thinking of you, your friends, and your precious daughter.

James said...

Hi John,

my best friend committed suicide when we were both 22. He got fixated with a bad woman (who was married)who liked the attention and kept messing him about sending him tapes and messages. He just got deeper and deeper into this thing and was quite inexperienced emotionally as he had never had a girlfriend. His parents and I tried to stop it but looking back we just alienated him by lining up against him (it must have seemed to him) Then one day he said the whole thing was over and he was going hiking down the South coast for a weekend to clear his head.
The next monday I got a phone call from his Dad-he had jumped off Beachy Head.
I still think about him a lot.

James said...

Hey John are you going to the Battle Day?

And did you check out Fields of Glory? I have heard good and bad you know what TMP is like.

Hope Clare is much better I haven't been keeping up with your blog.

Rock Chef said...

Jen - Thanks. I know that I am not the only person to have a dream like that and hope that others my be helped by the thought.

Speedcat - Good to see you! It is good to meet another person who has these dreams and believes!

Kiki - When you lose someone that you love I think that there will always be a feeling that there is something missing inside, something not right. The feeling does not go away but it can change with time. I truly believe that your father is in the same place as my daughter and friends, a wonderful place where you will be with him again when the time comes. Hugs!

James - that is a very sad story. It is easy to find fault with our actions after the event - at the time you clearly felt you were doing the right thing and for a lot of people it would have been the right thing. I often have "if only" thoughts but try to avoid them as they only seem to lead one way. It is tough.

Rachael Rae Diaries said...

This one was a tear jerker!

amazingbrenda said...

Sorry to hear about your losses. Makes me think about people that I knew that have passed away & even the ones that I din't really know but became acqainted with. The younger the more i think my life & family.

Rock Chef said...

Rachael - I promise some happy posts next!

AmazingBrenda - You are right, it is harder to accept when young people die. When someone dies at 70 it is much easier to take, no matter how close you are.

Chris said...

I had a classmate kill himself in highschool, but aside from that, I've luckily never been affected by suicide.

We were all affected by my friend's death, and I remember the police coming to my parent's house around 6 a.m. They told my parents there was an accident, and they would like them to come ID the body. The police had a strange look on their face when I walked to the door. Brad was wearing one of my T-shirts the night he was hit by a train.

Rock Chef said...

Chris - that must have been tough, and no wonder the Police looked at you a bit funny! Must have been hard on your parents having to identify your friend.

Logziella said...

I was not sure how to respond to this post. Only because I have really not lost anyone in my life other than Grandparents who lived a long life. I never realized this until I read your post and racked my brain about something I could share or add. Sad how I just took something like LIFE for granted. Your post made me stop and smell the roses and be thankful for what I do have instead of what I don't have. A reality check. Thank you.

My heart breaks for all of those stories that you and everyone else shared. I can't imagine that depth of pain. I am sorry you suffered/ing those losses...especially Sophie...she's sounds amazing.

Rock Chef said...

Logzie - Sophie was amazing. I am thinking that I will do a series of posts about her later in the year. She would have been 21 this summer, so I have a lot of remembering to do.

Kiki said...

Rock Chef, Thank you for your kind words, I am sure today that I will see my daddy again one day, and was comforted thinking that he might know your daughter...on a side note, I know that talking about my dad helps me to know that while he is gone is memory is not, he lives with me forever in my stories....hugs to you as well!!