I don’t have alot of friends, I’ve never been that good at keeping hold of them, as I move through each stage of my life I struggle to bring relationships with me. I’m too comfertalbe being on my own and being on the sides, not good a putting myself out there, happy to be forgotten, to be good at maintaining friendships.
When I moved to London I knew noone and it forced me to get over that comfertable independence. No one was going to take me under their wing and guide me through this mass of people, I had to figure out how to be semi normal and quickly. Part of that was entering the world of online dating, not only to find a boyfriend, but to meet people full stop. It was way beyond me to meet friends in a bar, or however you’re supposed to do it, so dates was a way to get me out of the flat and start living. And as a result the only friends I’ve made not through work or the flat are poeple I’ve met via online dates, as strange as that may be.
One of those friends messaged me this week that his mum was very close to death and only had a few days to live. This is not a situation I’m socially equipped for.
I’ve met him a total of three times. The first time on a date where I kissed him at the end of the night. The second time on a date where he told me he didn’t want to date me but wanted to be friends. The third time we went to an art gallery and had lunch. So not a long history, but I still count him as a friend even as I remained perplexed as to what makes an adult who has lived in London his whole life decide he wants to be friends with the guy he had a date with and then actually follow through on it. The act of bringing on adult friends is rare, it takes alot of energy to bring somone new into your life, if you have a circle of friends its big to meet somone and welcome them into your life. I’ve never asked him what led him to this decsion, I think about it all the time, and appreciate it every time I do.
But now his mum is dieing. This makes me unbarably sad. I’m terrible in sad situations. I feel that half the time I’m in a serious conversation I have a wierd smile on my face. I’m obviously not happy but its just an instinctual response, my body just panics and decides the best course of action is to grin, and somtimes emit a laughing noise. Its one of the many things that make me socially awkward.
The majority of my friendship with him has been farcicle joke based. The main reason we met up was because when we were chatting online I got wierd, as i always do, and he decended to my level of weirdness without hesitation. The conversations we have a sarcastic and ridiculous, dead pan and hilarious. Most of the messages I send him are New Zealand news story related, serious issues like loose seals, a girl riding a cow like a horse, or Canadian cat smuglers. You know normal everyday New Zealand news which is 90% animal based.
But now those messages are inapproriate. I don’t know how to say comferting words, either in person or via messages. I end up talking in gerneal platatudes, the same things that everyone says, thinking of you, call if you need anything etc. This is because I know there is actually nothing I can do. This sucks, its one of the worst moments in someones life and there is nothing at all i can do or say to stop it, to minimise it, to help it. I, like everyone else in his life am powerless against the forces of time and nature, the words i’ve said to him will have been said by everyone else, people who know him so much better than i do. My animal stories are powerful, but nowhere near powerful enough to defeat death.
I know that when it happens for me there isn’t anything I could be told to help and the reality is that this momment is quickly coming all the more closer as an event of trauma for me to survive. The ineveitablity of the death of my own parents is the though that I can’t remove from my mind when I talk to him.
The fact that I live on the other side of the world makes it all the more painful. If somthing happens I can’t get there quickly, I cant rush accross town to be there in a moment, I have to fly.
For 24 hours.
One day I will get a phone call that one of them is gone, or that one of them has been given a terrible diagnosis. And i will have to drop everything and go there and spend that entire flight regretting the fact that I wasn’t there for them more in their final years.
Its the one and only thing I dislike about living in london. I know I have to be here because its better for me. I’m happier, I’m more comferatable, I like the person London makes me and I don’t like myself in New Zealand. But knowing I’m not there for the people who made me and who raised me, that made me the person that was able to come to London and be taken into its arms hurts. Hurts a hell of a lot.
I don’t like that when I think of my friends pain I turn it into thinking about my own future pain, that I turn his current real hurt, into my imagained, but i can’t help it. I can’t begin to know the darkness he’s going through, and the only way I can process it is by thinking about the hurt that I know is coming.
So now I wait, he needs time, there is nothing I can do in these moments that others he know far better cannot. But while I wait I check the New Zealand Herald for news. Ridciuous news about sheep and whales and goats and just the general wierd and wonderful people that make New Zealand. Becasue while the rest of the world is involved in grown up issues New Zealand is just there doing it own thing giving me links and articles to stockpile ready to dispatch at a moments notice when the time comes when he is in need of some nonsense.