So, this is about Thomas, this is a remembrance of him.
I met Thomas in 2005 in Lampeter. Something that feels so very long ago, but also feels immediate and personal. If our connection with an event; our concerns, our care, our ongoing relationship with a time help keep it present and in a sense contemporary then a great deal about my time at Lampeter and especially time shared with Thomas is still current to me.
Thomas was a disarmingly friendly and honest person.
Now that it comes to it, I'm not sure I want to share everything about the history of my friendship with Thomas in detail. That's not really the point and, indeed, I'll end up only romanticising it. Making it into a story, rather than the truth and this must be about the truth.
So, let's start again. What made me write this?
I still feel sad for those who never met him, I don't mean the majority of the planet earth's population, but for my own friends, many who have known me for a long time, without ever knowing or meeting Thomas.
I think my original thought in writing this, was for them, to describe why this person, this stranger to them, has had such a huge impact upon my life. In many ways, his life and subsequent death have utterly altered me, but perhaps they cannot see this. After a while we see our friends in a perpetual image that we have shaped for them and it would take something drastic to change our minds about this perspective.
I mean, I'm not totally different, I still identify in much the same manner I did before. I'm still mostly sad, often angry, and always flippant. (You might think I'm a calm person, but if you do, you don't really know me very well.)
Perhaps I'd hoped people would be able to tell that I carried this trauma within me automatically and therefore treat me with all the appropriate solemnity and respect, but that's never the case, I've experienced this more times than I care to remember.
We cannot read each other's minds, even those we care so much about. It's perhaps because we're all such good liars, and I'm a tremendous liar. It isn't a boast, indeed, I'm ashamed about it. This is why Thomas was so important to me. He was hopeless at concealing his emotions, mainly because he didn't really try to and I don't want you to think he was saintly in his behaviour. He had plenty to feel angry and depressed about and although he coped with that better than anyone I've ever met, still he got sad and angry about things. Mainly other people's inability to see reason.
Also, I cannot describe Thomas himself, only my impressions of what he meant to me, but then that's my point here and I think Thomas would laugh at me for describing him so, and one should laugh (you cannot curse the darkness away), but this is my melodrama and I can cry if I want to.
You would cry too if it happened to you... (with thanks to Leslie Gore)
Anyway, what else could I or should I tell? Ah, yes.
Perhaps it's unsurprising to hear that my first reaction to Thomas' death was anger.
Anger at the world, for being a world wherein this can happen, where the good do indeed die young and the corrupt live long ignorant lives, where the whole thing keeps on moving, when what I wanted was for everything to just stop, because for me, everything did stop at that moment when his wife, now widow, told me that he had died.
Then anger at myself for being overcome by paralyzing emotion, for not being able to help those that needed help... more than me. This has become something too, guilt at my continuing grief, guilt that I still feel this so strongly five years later, because I'm not the widow, I'm not the parent, I'm not the life-long friend. I'm just someone who knew him for a while and I know this self-destructive thought is just that. That, in actuality, I knew Thomas at a pivotal period in his life and that I helped play a part in that, but that doesn't stop my feelings of guilt, of being a fraud, because I've never managed to live as openly as he did. Although I try.
I've been told, by philosophers no less, that I take things too seriously. Although admittedly they were analytic philosophers. Obviously I consider this to be incorrect, but I have deliberated upon it and thought about what I would be like if I were less affected emotionally by things. Not me, is a simple enough answer, which is appealing in a sense.
Life, after all, goes on. For a time. It has a habit of doing so. There are plenty of minor things to occupy one's mind so that you'd never need think about this ever again, so why do you persist in doing so? Is it just a love of suffering?
It is because, although it does sometimes make me deeply upset, it is also something that gives me hope, makes me feel human, and quite often makes me feel incredibly happy and lucky to have known such people as Thomas.
So, I think I've said everything I can say presently and I'm aware I still really haven't said that much, perhaps there's nothing I can really say to fully convey what it meant to me to lose someone like Thomas. It seems to get harder as time passes because memories fade and isn't that really all I've got left of him now? In a sense perhaps, but I also feel the time we spent as friends influenced and changed me and I feel that I carry part of that with me, for as long as I remain me. That's the part that's hard to say, I can show it, because it's me, but the stories I could tell you are only that. They can't capture the 'what it was', they are only giving my romanticised perspective of events. So, I persevere carrying this frozen fragment of a friend, when what is always wanted is the existence that is no more. The time that has passed and can never be again.