I have to be careful in what I write. I don't want to hurt anyone. So this, what I write is for me.
I remember you full of vitality. I remember you saving my ass in a manner of speaking when I was unjustly accused. I remember that sly secret smile you used to have around our family. The one that was truly diplomatic, where you thought one thing and knew better than to say it out loud and yet that thought made you smile, and I understood it. I felt your inner conflict. It frustrated me that the invisible wall of history was thrown up between us and we admired each other from opposite sides. Not condemning at all the other but neither capable to make the bridge over the political gap. I remember you as shorter and rounder than me. I remember you as sometimes very very deep, too deep, as someone aware, knowing perhaps more than people around you thought you knew.... I remember your voice, it would have been jazzy were you a singer, perhaps dare I say it, they type of voice white folk call black, raspy, like Louis Armstrong's voice. I remember you capable of taking a joke, of recounting a joke, of letting a guy know he was okay. I remember you being afraid. I remember the hassle when I went home to see you and everyone got upset that I was making a fuss. They told me you might only have six months, then you might not survive the operation, so for myself, for my purely selfish reasons, I left my dying marriage and found you frightened. I have no idea if anything I said made any difference. When I was home later, after your operation, to bury an old aunt, and you limped into the church yard looking depressed, it made me say to you 'hey how are you? Last time I saw you, you thought this would be you.'But you had perhaps rightly forgotten your previous fear as you struggled with your new incapacitating reality.
3 years later after the first discovery I saw you again. You looked the same as last time. Still afraid, still struggling and frustrated, understandable.
Now 4 months later, you need never worry again. My sister will be good. There are those who will take care of her. I am not her favourite and that is all I understand. I am glad you have let go, but I am deeply sad I wasn't there. I can't be there, I won't be there. I will visit where you lie whenever I get home, perhaps next year, who knows?
This is my small curse of never being home anymore, I cannot be there. I cannot mourn in real. I have to let go in absence. It is not too easy. It is difficult. It is the way of the emmigrant. I have to continue as if nothing has happened. I told my son, he is six, I don't think he even remembers you but he was sensitive to something being wrong. 'Papa why did Maman say OH no'? I am not good at keeping things from children, it doesn't help them grow to keep them too innocent. So I told him you had died. He was quiet. I asked him was he okay, and he said yes. I told him to tell his Mam he knew. She will flip out. Maybe that's just part of why she is my ex. You would hear me say that and smile.
I see that smile again now, like you understand but know something I don't. I know it is nothing compared to that which you have gone through. Your arm on my shoulder, that brotherly pat on the back. For we were brothers at one stage before we were in-laws.
I don't know why you went through it, nor why she went through it, nor anyone for that matter. My sanity and philosophy tell me it is just so.
So I excuse myself, I cannot be there. I cannot sing by your side as you lie at home, I cannot toast your memory, I cannot wake you, I cannot shed tears at your graveside. Thank you for not holding on too long, sorry I can't be there now.
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