For My Friend

‘When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him will be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.’

Ah, good old Kahlil Gibran, always trying to find the positive, the lesson, in the sometimes-tangled mess of life. I suppose this was his way of saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but sometimes absence is just that, a hole in your life, where something or someone once was and they cannot be replaced.

I’ve parted from several friends in my life, simply due to having moved so often and so far, but most of us are still in touch. Each on our own journey, but our paths still intersect from time to time. However, sometimes you get the news that a friend is on another kind of journey, one which we all must take one day, and from which there is no return. That kind of news is always hard to hear, and doubly so in this time of solitude and shielding, where the only comfort you can offer is words, and there is no guarantee that you will actually get to see each other again.

And so it has been for me this week. I am heartsore, and cannot imagine how it must be for her family, for her beloved, to have to deal with this news. Our friendship has been mostly virtual, but we have spent a handful of days together. And oh, such days, where time has stretched and twisted, allowing glimpses of other realms, and some of the most profound experiences of my life. Days of tears and laughter, of good food and company, of ritual and song. Days that have changed the course of my own life, helping me to explore who I truly am. And through them all, a thread of warmth and learning and friendship, of generosity of spirit and understanding that I’ll never forget.

‘I’m still here,’ I can hear her saying. And of course she is. And she will be for a while yet.

So perhaps I’ll finish up here with another quote, this time from Tennesee Williams. ‘Time doesn’t take away from friendship, nor does separation.’

I know you’ll get to see the heather bloom again. And I hope I get to see it with you.


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For Paris

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I first visited Paris when I was seventeen, my friend and I getting lost in the ancient streets, sitting in parks and watching people go by, caught up in the magic of the city. It felt strangely familiar to me; I suppose the fact I spoke French quite well helped.

I have been back several times since, including a recent visit where we saw old friends, went out for dinner and then to a rock concert, as Parisians do most nights of the week. As they did last night.

I will not let such horror and atrocity take away the magic and beauty of Paris.

Sending love and heartfelt sympathy to all those affected by last night’s events, a darkness in the City of Light.

Paris, je t’adore.