This week, the first week of November, a very special festival is taking place in Scotland called “To Absent Friends…” I suppose it’s no coincidence that the week begins with All Saints Day. But what I quickly realized was that it ends on November 7th, which this year is the 9th anniversary of my friend, Delle Chatman’s death.
The 7th was a Tuesday, election day. I knew she was close to death: earlier that day, her brother was writing her obituary. After dinner, I sat at the dining room table with my laptop open, waiting for the news I dreaded. But I didn’t wait long. Instead I went upstairs to watch the election results. The next morning I awoke to the news that she died minutes after I turned off my computer.
“Absent” might be an inaccurate word to use with Delle. She’s made her presence known to me more than once, in sometimes melodramatic ways. There are other friends who have taken up residency in my head, so I can be sure to hear their voices: laughing, scolding, teasing.
True, none of them are physically present. But as we all know, our friends never really leave us. And as long as they remain in our hearts and minds, they’re never really gone. I couldn’t forget Delle or Pierre or Dan or Mary Ellen if I wanted to. And I don’t.
So today, or sometime this week, remember the friends you’ve lost. Share a story. Raise a glass. Say a prayer. Tell them you miss them.
And then make sure the ones who are not yet absent, the ones who are still here with you, know how much you love them.