On Friday I woke up to a message from a friend, telling me that a boy we went to school with had died. I read the message in my blurry moments of waking, not fully taking it in. This message followed by others on my phone screen, the details: a disease diagnosed just weeks ago, a seizure, a three-year-old son left behind.
It is sudden and shocking, but though I feel disquieted all day, this grief is not mine.
We were in a group of friends at school, but hadn’t spoken in years. And as the Facebook memorial posts pop up on my timeline, I find that at some point in the last decade he’d unfriended me. And yet in that weird way the world works, I’d thought about him just a few days earlier. Or rather, about an argument me and another girl had over him. Just one of those memories that flashes into your mind for no reason, until the reason presents itself.
I message the friend back, expressing my shock and condolences in the stilted, inelegant way Facebook messenger allows. I ask her if they were still in touch and she says they were loosely. She says they saw each other at birthdays and weddings and stuff.
As you approach thirty, the milestones get nearer. Landmark birthdays come and go. The wedding invites mount up. Hen dos. Baby showers. But no one talks about the and stuff. The and stuff isn’t supposed to come till much, much later.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 15th July 2018 as part of Internet Care Package.
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