“It’s over…just hear this and I’ll let you go.”
Somewhere sad eyes are crying and asking why and here at home, grown men who knew him well enough to say, “hey buddy”, hold them back and can’t find the words to say.
“Did ya say, no, this can’t happen to me…did ya rush to the phone. I didn’t know him at all…I didn’t know.” from This is our Last Goodbye.
My neighbor’s dog is two years old today and I knew immediately from the look on my friend’s unshaven face before he said, “did you hear…?” I didn’t want to hear. They walked down the bank beside the house and my kids kept throwing snowballs at dad while he told me the story in broken words how he was 10 miles away and they couldn’t get there in time to help, no-one could. “His name was on the board at the shop…he was supposed to come in this morning.”
The familiar pains of winter words and white death filled his face and he swallowed hard when his voice cracked. I took a breath and I turned my head and shook his chocolate-brown lab around the scruff of his neck while the kids lobbed snowy reminders of the every day that don’t understand why the clocks all stopped there in the parking lot in front of our house en route to the skating rink in the village.
The tears came when he walked away and I told Jack I was going to get some water and sat at the kitchen table in my boots and jacket for a stolen moment…
Sad songs and rock and roll and the unrequited love of these peaks that call us in the grey bird of a 100cm week find me here alone with the hum of the refrigerator and Jeff Buckley…they call us like love-sick sailors to rocky shores with the voices of singing women curling in whispers between the wind the words we’ll never hear. They will never kiss our cheeks or hold our hands and say. No, not the way we love them, not the way my children kiss me and say, “I love you Dada”, with words too many too young will never hear, but we call this place home and pray selfishly each time the next time will be one step further from our own.
…and more than that…we pray his friends came to him and said, “it’s going to be OK buddy”, all knowing, and held his hand and wiped his goggles and listened…and held him into the last goodbye of a winter night too dark and too cold to go alone like so many of our friends before him.
I kissed my daughter and held my little boy tight before I sent him to bed tonight. Do that. Not because today might be your last but because we can. Tell them you love them and send a prayer to those we left behind who won’t see the eve of the new year only a day away.
RIP Duncan MacKenzie.