Today is the 19th anniversary of my best friend’s death. His name was Mark Quinney and everyone called him Coombes for reasons largely lost to the mists of time. For the same reasons, my friend Pete, despite being called Alan, is called Pete. His MUM calls him Pete. He just has an inherently Pete-like energy to him. It’s weird but it works.
Coombes died of leukemia when we were both 17. He’d had it three times across what I can no longer quite remember was three years or two. He’d been sick a long time and the third time it came back, he chose not to have any chemo. Which meant he was going to die in six weeks. A lot of other people had a normal adolescence, this was mine. He was given six weeks and of course because he was a contrary little bastard he lasted eight. He was a big reason why I got into comics, he’s why I appreciate comic art and really obnoxious metal and rap as much as I do. I still have my share of his CDs.
19 years is a very long time and the yearly gatherings we had to get drunk, fail to steal tennis nets (This actually happened) and successfully steal several benches (This also happened) dropped away to a few of us, then none. I’m not even sure if any of my friends from the island are still reading this blog, or Facebook, but it doesn’t matter. Because we all remember him, we all remember who he was and we all, if we need to, grieve today.
I didn’t. I worked. Maybe I buried myself in the work to distract from it, maybe I was just sick of having overlong projects over my head, I don’t know. I’m not sure it matters. What matters is this:
-Today I instigated my new rule for his anniversary; that instead of looking at the past I should do something new. Today it was an astronomically vast brunch at the JamCafe, which we’ve never been to before. It was ace.
-That I’m making real progress on finishing the backlog of film essays I’ve accumulated over the year. I have 21 to do, which works out at five a day. I’ve done five today. I can do this.
-That at least three of them? I’m really proud of.
More on that, and the other projects at the moment, tomorrow. But for now, raise your glasses if you have them to my best friend, Coombes. Have fun, buddy, wherever you are.