My friend Julia has cancer, she’s here for a purposeful, loving, productive and good time, not a long one. As she says, she’s still here. My friend Darren, he’s bereaved, he’s missing my sister in the way you miss your best loved-one. They were a pair, she’s gone and he wants out, too.
I haven’t heard from Darren today. I’ve left a message and I’ll try again later, he might be sleeping, and I wouldn’t want to wake him into a world he can’t manage. I’ve heard from Julia via her blog, Five Fairies and a Fella. It’s been a big week for Jules, she had her operation, came closer to the truth of her cancer and she’s chucked herself into her life. She’s a marvel. And so is Darren for making it this far.
I said when I was with Darren yesterday and we spoke of his ‘plans’ the whole thing was matter of fact. It didn’t feel cold, heartless, it felt like it was without drama. That was the worst part.
We dropped down Platypus Rock to visit Libby, the river was high, running fast, ducks came in flying low and landing with a long swish on the water. Such grace. I took photos, I always do, I took a selfie of us, because it might be our last time. We listened to Madonna and chatted, about Libby and nothing and about he does it, attempt to commit suicide, that he does it right. I said to make sure he writes DNR on his stomach.
‘Do Not Resuscitate.’
‘Too right,’ Darren said, ‘I don’t want to be a vegetable.’
I sort of laughed, ‘I don’t think we call them vegetables anymore, Daz.’
Oh, it’s so easy and fun to talk about the idea of deliberately leaving this world for whoever knows what.
Funny, only days earlier I’d been to the Rock with Mum we spoke about what she’d want when she goes. That’s a much simpler conversation with a person in her seventies (not that I don’t think she has a few decades left).
This death stuff is not easy. The saddest part of it for me has always been that somebody, somebody loved and loving, is so desperate, desolate, futureless, that killing themselves is the good option.
What do you do with yourself when you’ve been in on a conversation like that? Cry buckets when you’re out of earshot? Write a blog because an on-paper perspective might help. Go for a ride. A ride could be just the thing.
Last night I rode my local loop. I got to the dirt, about five minutes from home, and that’s when the tears started. Initially, I was relieved. Okay, do this section, take the drop off and maybe sit on that bench and let them come, it’s been an emotional day. No? Okay. Ride the next section and drop a few tears at the lookout. I almost-cried the whole way round. I felt sick. I’ve got a couple of resting paces on my way round and at the top of a single-tracked hill is the place I always rest and watch the river go by and think of Libby. Yesterday I couldn’t rest properly. On the way back I nearly took out a mob of kangaroos, and then another cyclist nearly took me out, I hit the last part of the trail and if I thought I was crying before, I was wrong. That last ten minutes is when tears began, howling like a dickhead, loud, face twisting, glad nobody saw me and almost so sad nobody saw me. Somebody acknowledge how shit this is!
It crossed my mind that I wished it was Libby instead of Darren. Let Libby be talking about topping herself, calling me up, dragging my heart across the floor, recovering and asking if she can have the bag she left in my boot. Yes, God, Universe, whoever, let Libby live in that suicidal pain but let her be here.
Real good going, Nicki.
There are ways of living and ways of living. I love how Julia’s living; in the moment, grabbing life with everything she’s got, determined to live with a capital L, for her fella, for her fairies, for herself. For Darren, living is the last thing he wants. I can’t imagine what Julia would think of that. I’m pretty sure if I was in Julia’s position I’d be a little angry about a guy, mostly healthy, with years ahead of him, wanting out.
But it’s unfair to compare. Comparing never does anyone much good because we’re not the same and hypotheticals amount to nothing in the real world.