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Friday, February 25, 2005 

We do not remember days, we remember moments

When I was 13 years old, my best mate James and I stole a packet of cigarettes from his father’s drawer. We hid in the garden shed behind their house, divided the packet of cigarettes into 2 equal piles, and proceeded to smoke all of them in one go. I think I was about half way through my stash, when I began to hurl uncontrollably and so did James. I was sick for 3 days thereafter, and as far as I know, those were the first and last cigarettes I had ever smoked. Thinking back, stealing the cigarettes, and trying to smoke the whole pack, was an incredibly stupid thing to do. But, as with most 13 year olds, doing incredibly stupid things is a way of life, and in our youthful innocence, we thought we were very brave and very grown up. Hahaha… of all the many things we did back then, this one stands out as one (yeah there we many more) of the more memorable moments in our lives, and we laughed about it for years after. James, seemingly got over his aversion to cigarettes, and by the time we were 18, he was a “full blown” smoker. Back then, I was the geek and he was the “cool kid”, so it makes sense that he would be the one who ended up smoking. Damn, those really were the good ol’ days! This week my friend James tragically died of lung cancer… barely 30, and now he is gone forever. We had lost touch soon after we left school. James and his parents moved to another part of the country, and although we had sworn at the time stay close, we inevitably lost touch. Although I had not seen him in over ten years, his death came as a big shock to me, and I cannot help but wonder, whether it was that first pack of cigarettes that had put him onto the path that eventually led to his untimely death. Perhaps it did not, but it is remarkable how one is able string together insignificant events, while trying to make sense of the loss of someone you were once close to. In fact, since receiving the news, I suddenly began to remember a lot of things, I thought I had completely forgotten. Yet after all these years, seemingly small and insignificant events, things we spoke about, did together as kids, and dreams we had growing up, all came rushing to the surface. Some good, some bad… some as clear as if they happened yesterday, while others appear to be nothing more than vague snippets. I guess one can never truly leave one’s past behind. The memories are all there, neatly filed away in little compartments, just waiting to be accessed and relived again. My buddy James will continue to live on for as long as I care to remember him and who he was… who I was.


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