To Those Who’ve Gone: A Toast…

Wish you were here. Wish I was there? Nah, don’t wish I was there. I went down that path, nearly didn’t come back. Remember? Hand in hand we skipped, laughed and danced down the road as the sun shone upon our backs. The warmth of life, the feeling of invincibility. The sun would never set and tomorrow would never come. The longest day of our lives. Slowly the sun set, bright eyes dimmed and youthful naivety turned to weariness. No longer dancing but limping, falling, crawling to the eternal paradise the road promised. There was no paradise.

The sun set long ago, for some it rose again. For others it never will. I wish they were here. To laugh and smile. To live the longest day one more time. For that there’s nothing I wouldn’t give. But I can’t. I would give anything, yet there’s nothing I can give. All that’s left is memories. Some brief, some lingering. A song, a name, a face passing in the crowds. For a few seconds they’re back, and then it’s over again. Inhaling the opium pipe gifted by the mind as it takes you back and forth through dreams and reality. A fleeting high, dashed by a paralysing low, not of the body but of the soul.

For some it wasn’t a road trodden, mistakes made. It was time. Another invisible force which permeates all that we do. Can’t wait for tomorrow, but tomorrow is two days after yesterday. Tomorrow turns to months, years, I can’t wait. You can wait. Wishing away what we can enjoy in the moment. Seconds, minutes that’ll never come again. It’s now that makes the thoughts and memories.

For others there was no reason. Purpose questioned, evil exists and it was them who was chosen. But they weren’t them, they brought light. Darkness can’t penetrate that light. It’s what they were, not what they are. Gone. It’s just a word. They were here and for that you can smile. And still they’re here, just as they were. The river of bitterness and spite that flows like a river of sewage through the world is a small one. One step over and you’re beyond the darkness which consumes those who will never feel what you feel. Happiness. Happiness with friends and loved ones. That can never be taken away. And when they envy, turn to the comfort of your mind.

Smoke filled rooms and glasses clinking. Songs sung badly. No judgement, no care, free. Fools. Happy fools. Childhood memories: a ball kicked, a bedtime story told. A warm hand held, safety. The story you tell, this is where it was made. Where the pen started to move across the pages, tragedy, comedy, romance, horror. Not fiction. It was real, and when those memories come flooding back, when the audience asks ‘where are they now?’ You can smile, because they’re by your side. Laughing, crying, smiling, telling you not to stop because there are more pages to be written. Their pens fell, now they’re the ink in yours.

At night, looking up at the stars. Shining down, incomprehensible distances bringing a glimmer of hope that someone is looking down. It defies logic, it defies physics. But hope and comfort transcend the realms of logic and physics. Love too, another incomprehensible force. But it brings warmth, it’s what makes those memories meaningful. When tears are shed, it’s because you loved, it’s because you smiled, it’s because you laughed. And you’ll love again, smile again, laugh again. When the tears are wiped away, the sun will rise. When it does, raise a toast to those who’ve gone: at least we’ve loved.