Saturday, 30 January 2010

For Catherine

I learned a couple of days ago that one of my school friends had passed away just before Christmas after a short illness. This made me sad. Catherine was a beautiful gentle human being. She is the first of my school friends to die from so called 'natural causes'. And that's supposed to make it 'OK' is it? Moments like this are that curious mix of knowing that such things are a common experience for us all, an inevitable part of being alive and yet such a deeply personal one too. I thought why her? why that way? who will be next how will happen? We get pretty meta-physical at times like these.

The news however brought the past vividly to life. The school disco, the sound of Procul Harum playing at the end. I can remember what I was wearing, I can even see the type of early evening summer light as we hung around outside and chatted. I haven't seen Catherine for over 20 years. For one week in 1968 she was my 'girlfriend' and then she became the childhood sweetheart of a good friend of mine, and eventually they got married.

In quiet moments I often imagine that we have a thin piece of red cotton attached to our backs and that you can follow the path through life you make on a map. I also imagine the paths of other people and see where they meet, cross over, drift apart, run parallel. The redlines of Catherine and I. The social connections of everyone we meet. A complicated red social network. Why am I writing this? why on a blog? It might be a way of bringing a section of red cotton to life. Before I've always held these things in mind. I've never really thought about what the cotton looks like at the end. When we die. A clean cut? frayed and dishevelled? Our final strands casting around trying to grab the life line of others? I have no idea.

This post wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Catherine.


  1. You're somewhat fortunate to have only lost one friend from school. We're probably the same age (by the date you indicated). I've lost many friends (and family). Tho, sorry you lost your buddy. I, too, just found out a friend of mine was already gone 11 years. I was shocked I'd not heard! Life is fragile.

  2. Hi Debra, Yes. I quite agree. Sadly Catherine was just one of our friends who has passed away at this time of life. Regretably our class has lost friends from earlier years too, motor accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, terminal illness, all in their teens, twenties and thirties. Life can throw some stuff at you!