I have been thinking a lot lately about someone I knew only briefly in my early 20’s. He was a young gay lad. I met him through a mutual friend at the time.
He had been brought up within the Roman Catholic religion and his coming out was a difficult time for his nearest and dearest. I knew him for just a few short months back in the late 1990’s but I was always struck by his kindness, his gentle nature and his resolve to live life on his own terms, regardless of what the fallout might have been for others who perhaps weren’t quite as accepting of himself as he was. He wasn’t yet out of his teens but in many ways, a self actualised individual. I looked up to him. He was courageous and although his smile masked inner turmoil and pain, he always brought love to the table.
He was befriended by an older male (B) within the wider gay community. I can vividly recall the night I was told that B had been involved in an horrific accident. His car had veered off the road and shortly thereafter burst into flames, the occupant fully aware of the situation he had found himself in. I was friends with quite a few gay people at the time and one was an older male, same sort of age as B. He burst into tears when he heard. He told me what a lovely man B was. I was relieved it wasn’t E. A short while later, it was discovered B hadn’t been in the car at all but had let E borrow it.
E was a lovely person, inside and out. He had a smiling cheeky face and the thought he had left the world in that way, filled with yet more pain, his beauty being erased with each passing second, was just too horrible to contemplate. His story was featured in the local newspaper. His photograph there too. I got hold of a copy and took it home, putting it under my bed and taking it out once in a while to read it, to somehow keep him alive. My mother being a deeply homophobic person (still is, sadly) got rid of it. Threw it out and only told me after the dustbin men had taken it away.
I have been an addict for a very long time. Drink, food, cigarettes etc you name it. I have been battling inwardly for more time than I care to think about and this year having gone through yet another breakdown, realised my issues had begun in the serious way they have presented themselves within my life, since about 1998. That’s the year I pinpointed it to. So, I decided to once and for all get clean and discover who I am under all of this.
It was then E came to me in a dream. There he was. Just as when I knew him. I could hear his voice. I hadn’t thought about him in over 20 years so wasn’t sure at the time why I had dreamed of him. I now realise he was the catalyst for my self-destructive path, the straw which broke this camel’s back. Getting clean had created the insights needed to see that the pain of his loss was just too much for me to handle at the time and because I didn’t have anyone I could confide in about this, I instead tried to bury it and simultaneously began seriously self-medicating.
The day after the dream, I went looking online for him and for a long time couldn’t find him at all and wondered if I had made him up. Then there he was. Born 1978, died 1998 at just 19. I had found him. I was born in 1973 and my year of birth seems to get further away with time using the scroll bars on online forms but 1978 still seems fresh. I feel the pressure of time now at 48 but 43/44 is nothing. Young. It’s difficult to contemplate someone having had so much to offer the world and being gone in his early 40’s, let alone knowing that for 24 of those years he hasn’t graced the world at all with his presence and never will do so again.
I miss him. More now probably than ever.
This song reminds me of him.