Throughout life, we talk about people ‘being there’ for us. We want to know we can count on someone. Often what we mean is that we want that person to be here, with us, beside us, holding our hand.
A month ago, I sat on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral thinking about my wonderful friend, Al. That day marked half a year since his death. And I was sad, of course I was sad. As I wallowed in that feeling, a thought blanketed me in a sense of calm.
In the eight years we knew each other, Al and I spent no more than a week in each other’s company.
That’s not the bit that made me feel better.
We spent so little time in the same place, yet I never questioned his being there for me. Al was the one person I never resented for not being here, beside me, because I always knew he was there. And that was all we ever needed. MySpace was our there. Then MSN. Then Facebook. And, for an all-too-brief moment some years ago, we shared a here in that little art gallery in The Rocks. But mostly our friendship was the simple knowledge that whenever we needed each other, we’d be there, wherever that may be.
In the months since we lost him, this thought has comforted me, time and time again: Al will always be there – as he always was – because now our there lives in me.
I’m not sure that’ll ever be enough, though I don’t suppose I have a choice. I’d trade the world to go back and un-cancel that last real adventure we were meant to share. Until we figure out time travel, however, I’m carrying him in my thoughts, from the steps of St Pauls to the rocky peak of Mount Batur. And I love knowing that hundreds of others are doing the same.