Today, April 8, 2012 marks five years since my dear friend Chris Thomas passed away. I intend to share a number of projects I have undertaken in tribute to her over the course of the day. This is the first, an article for Cath Duncan’s Remembering for Good Pinterest board.
Five years on
I sometimes wonder how on earth five years can have elapsed already. Scratch that, I often wonder how five years can have gone by like that. That day still feels like yesterday…that week no more than a week ago. There’s a reason for my feeling like this at this time of year…and I’d like to think it’s a good one, but some might say different.
This Easter marks five years since my dear friend Chris Thomas passed away. It irks me when people claim that you don’t really know people you’ve met online, because I think that it’s possible to become even closer to online friends, sometimes, than ‘real world’ friends.
I’m not sure whether that’s true of what Chris and I shared, but I do know that even five years after her death, I am still taking inspiration from the way she lived her life, and learning from her example. Outside of the fog of Easter, I’m sure I appreciate my life more because of her.
How could you not appreciate life more, if the person you’ve lost is the reason you crease up laughing when you see a display of shovels/spades at a garden centre? (Funny story, that one…all began with the joke ‘What do you call a man with a spade on his head?’ The punchline’s Doug, but to me, it’s always ‘What’s a spade, Shady?’)
Alongside the funnies, there were more sobering moments, like the time she told me: ‘It’s a long time I don’t play guitar, and you made me find the way again. Thanks!’ That’s one of my greatest achievements to date, I think…above and beyond anything I’ve done with the blog.
Chris’ enthusiasm for my creativity drove me to create whilst she was physically here, and still drives me even now. Much of what I write is at least internally dedicated to her, and the blog stands as a tribute…I share my story and hers, so that others might know that they are not alone.
One day, I hope to foster a community which provides support for those who have been through the same type of loss that I have, and create an environment within which they feel validated, their loss is, after all, no different to the many other types of loss which are granted knowing sighs and sympathetic noises. Those of us who have lost online friends get the privilege of looks that would be better suited to our having disembarked from spacecraft.
Amongst many other things, Chris also taught me to appreciate football. I fondly remember our post-game discussion following Argentina’s defeat to Germany in the 2006 World Cup. I felt duty bound to share the news that the Argentinian coach had stepped down, and that was the catalyst for the bad jokes. She shared a joke with me, too: ‘How do four elephants get in a Mini Cooper car? Two in the front, two in the back.’ It took me a long time to work that one out…but now it makes me smile, not because the joke’s particularly funny, but because she told it to me.
Perhaps our greatest common interest was our mutual adoration of George Harrison. Through her I learned the spiritual meanings of many of George’s songs, and more than I’d ever cared to know previously about a spiritual way of life. Chris was a devout Hindu, and we spent a long time discussing religious beliefs, both George’s and her own…although there wasn’t that much difference between them. Chris was the first person to mention the Bhagavad Gita to me, the Hindu holy book…and I didn’t read it until two years after she passed away. I can’t help but think there might have been a reason for that, though. There is much wisdom within it for those who would like to believe that somebody they have loved and ‘lost’ continues on somewhere. There was a time when I repeated one verse in particular to myself daily:
‘There never was a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor any of these kings. Nor will there be any future where we cease to be.’
(Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse eighteen)
Through her example, Chris unknowingly provided me with the skills I would later need to cope with her absence, ‘and for that I’m so grateful to her’. Also in 2009, I wrote a song in tribute to her which was later broadcast on Mexican radio- I’ve updated it in honour of the fifth anniversary, and you can hear it below.
Above all, I’d like to thank Chris for being the inspiration she was, and continues to be for me, because without her, I don’t think I would have been motivated to do half of what I have. We should all be so lucky as to have such unique people in our lives. I know I’m more than grateful for the time I had Chris in mine.
Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,