My friend Archie died in September, having been diagnosed with a rare tumor a few months before.
Before Archie’s memorial service, I’d spent about two weeks organising photos of his handsome face and figured I was pretty well prepared for a funeral. I had gone through the darkness and the shock. I would be fine on the day.
And then, on the day, I cried when I ordered the taxi. Then cried again when I was sat on the wall waiting for the taxi. Then cried passing my old flat in Cumberland Court. And then I cried again getting out of the taxi, and again walking up to Left Bank, and again when I saw the same photos of Archie projected on a massive screen, framed by fairy lights. Everyone else seemed OK, like they were coping, and I really wasn’t coping at all.
Then, I waited for the toilet for a bit. And cried because Archie once kept me waiting ages for the toilet at a party so he could fully enjoy a relaxing, sit-down wee.
Suddenly something very abstract had become very real. Archie’s gone. Everyone else seemed OK, like they were coping, and I really wasn’t coping.
But each time I crumbled, there was someone there to catch me on the way down.
Archie’s diagnosis was devastating and unfair and sudden and shocking… all of those emotions that you can’t explain. He knew it would be devastating and he was worried about that, not just for me but for hundreds of people. He did his best to absorb the shock and deliver things in a format I could manage. His texts were usually positive, although not always, but he always found positivity in the act of sharing.
We were opposites and yet the same in our stubbornness and determination to win an argument. About 10 years ago, we were pretty close. He would often come round my house to do my head in about something, but his sense of humour and unique outlook on life made him a hugely attractive presence. Plus, we had a shared appetite for fun, friends and mischief. We had our ‘disagreements’. Once, after pissing me off, he followed me around all night to try smooth things over. Equally, I owe him a few favours and apologies too, particularly for the time he pissed me off by booking me a complete tour of Switzerland without asking.
All the times he came over with some beers or an idea to share, he made me laugh. Just by being Archie, even without trying. Daft, inappropriate, goofy and nerdy, sometimes saying things in that crossover Swiss German/ English phrasing he used. “Make a party” is the phrase I heard most often. We made lots of them.
On Saturday, wise people told me life isn’t fair and sometimes bad things happen for no reason. It’s OK. Thanks, Archie, for making sure I had time to prepare. Thanks everyone else for getting me through it.