Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Fourth of November

Today’s is no article or review, no update to my current life either. Maybe I should keep what I’m about to say private, or maybe not. Because by keeping it to myself I cannot make my friend’s importance to me known and it is actually thanks to him that I ever started blogging at all, through finding his own blog. However that is only one tiny reason as to why I owe so much to my friend, one of the truest friends there ever was.

It’s four years since I lost my friend in a tragic car accident. Lost but not forgotten and in a way not lost at all. For I speak to my friend still in my mind, even imagine him reply back at times. I have to admit I speak to him more now that he’s gone than I ever did once we were not still in school together. I should have kept in touch more, told him more about what was going on in my life. I have many dear memories and yet I feel like I did not do my part as a friend in those final years. The thing is, I took him for granted. He’d always be there, I thought. Never in a million years would I have conjured up the scenario that still flashes in front of my eyes since four years ago.

Over a thousand days have passed since the phone calls (three of them, each caller thinking they were breaking the news to me) that made me stupidly tell the first caller, “Maybe it was another René Cilia and not him.” Sensationalism sells, so I can clearly remember a scene on TV showing a bloodied poem that was found in the front of his car. That poem was probably his last one, maybe unfinished too, but I clearly remember another one he’d written and which was to be read out during assembly. “Can you read it instead of me?” he’d asked me. “I love how you read poetry.” It makes me cry to remember this. He was probably the person who thought the best of me, the one who not only always respected my decisions but admired me for them. I never figured out why he was so caring, but now I think it’s because that is just the way he was.

Picture from René's old Facebook profile
The dull ache in my stomach comes back each time I think of it - of his death, of how young he was, of how I’ll never be able to see him smile again other than in my head. He smiled a lot, and laughed a lot, and generally was the life of the party. Yes, he was a priest in the last years, but one known to all as ‘The Priest with the Smile’. What a lovely way to remember someone. As the years roll on, his memorial page on Facebook is updated no more, and many have gone back to their lives unscathed if saddened by the loss. As for myself, however, I will never be the same person I was before our untimely parting.

Hopefully, his memory has changed me for the better and it’s what drives me not only to speak up for what I believe in but also maybe pushed me just that little bit more that I needed in my writing attempts too. René was a published author, so I will always be able to look proudly at him also in that he achieved that dream, much before myself, and truly at a time when the rollercoaster that is my life was at a low that discarded even passions I held dear such as writing. In fact I rather think that it was in remembering his achievements that I pushed myself to succeed, maybe many years later than I should have, and definitely many years later than if I’d kept in touch with him as much as I should. He would so have gently but surely pushed me towards writing and achieving my goals.

I would never have chosen to let him go. Truth be told, the enormity of just how much our friendship meant, or rather means, to me is a puzzle even to myself. But as he is gone from this earth and I cannot will him back, I choose to live my life with him as an intuitive presence by my side, keeping my family safe and inspiring me to be myself, create art and phrases with zest, and believe in myself. Because he was that person who always believed in me. I’m glad you got to meet my child at least that once, my precious friend. Now Rest in Peace, until we meet again.
Picture from René's old Facebook profile

I am sharing here a link to one of the articles that appeared in the newspaper after the accident. Most newspaper articles focus on horror and the nastier an accident the more prominence it will be given in the news, like bait to people hungry for disaster. This one time though, despite that countless articles appeared in all the newspapers in my country about the accident and funeral and anything else that reporters could get hold of, the articles presented Father René in a way that is fitting to his memory, focusing on his positivity and caring ways among other traits.

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