Sunday, 5 August 2018
A Matter of Life and Death
It has been quite a week. It has been a week of loss and the inevitable reflection about the nature of life and death and one’s place in it.
On Thursday I attended the funeral of an old gaming friend from back in the old Newham Wargames club days. I first met Pete in the very late 1970s and was in his orbit up until around 1998 - when we moved away from London. I should point out that some of the ex Newham crowd live quite close by to where I am now living and so perhaps, it was not surprising that my gaming tended to be more locally based. For sure I bumped into some of the former Newham based gamers that were more London facing - usually at shows and such like.
Pete was one the crowd that I did not stay in close contact with - not from any intent you understand; merely that life, children, house moves, deaths and job changes meant that before I knew it twenty years had gone by. Ironically when another member of the former Newham crowd moved to my neck of the woods the plan was meet up with Pete at one of our old stamping grounds from back in the day. Sadly I was unable to make this but I was looking forward to the next meet up that I would be attending.With Pete’s untimely passing this will not now take place.
Pete was a larger than life character in every way. He was funny, very well read and with a hugely diverse range of interests of which Wargaming was just one. I recall many games of Magic: The Gathering with him and we also avidly gamed the Battletech Collectible Card Game. He was fascinated with old musical instruments and was also a former Viking reenactor. I used to meet him for lunch when he was working in the city and we always had a good laugh about something or other.
When I heard about his passing my first reaction was one of guilt. Guilt for not having stayed in touch with him and guilt for not meeting up with him when I had the chance to do so.
I carried this feeling with me when I attended his funeral and so felt awkward being in the presence of those that had much closer and more recent acquaintance with him. I needn’t have worried. I cannot say that I was welcomed home like the prodigal son - it was rather more muted, as befitted the occasion - but I was welcomed within the spirit of old comradeship and shared grief which made me feel a whole lot better. During the wake I discussed, almost sheepishly, how I felt with a couple of people and was reassured by all that life, in all its complexity, can play havoc with our best intentions and that merely being there, at the end, was sufficient. It meant a lot to me.
If I have learned one thing from this it is the value of true friendships - of friendships that last the passage of years and circumstance.
Of my old friend Pete I can say only this. He was a good friend at an important and formative time in my life and so I hope his journey to Valhalla is a safe one.
Whilst coming to terms with Pete’s passing we have also had to deal with the march of time with the eldest of out three cats. Earlier today we had to say good bye to her - she was 18 and a half - as she had recently lost a lot of weight and was clearly not in the best of health. She was a very affectionate cat and was always parked on someone’s lap so her loss will be felt keenly.
I have had better weeks for sure.