I had sent my last post to Phil two weeks before he died and I was at first embarrassed to share something so personal but sent it tentatively to him anyway and his reply was positive. He wanted me to share it on the blog so that I may find others who felt the same which would be helpful for me. At that point he knew much better than I that the time would soon come that I would need help more than ever.
And here I am. In the wake of his death, struggling to come to terms with the big black hole that has opened up in front of me. And no matter how many tears I cry into it and how many memories I try to block it up with, it just seems to be a endless pit. For three days now I've felt more distant and lonely than ever before. We're in London right now and couldn't be with him in his final hours nor share our grief afterwards. No one to hold except each other. This seems to be the only way to grieve without burdening others with it.
Especially his sisters who have meant so much to him and who have been through so much already. Out of respect for their much greater grief of losing a family member I've tried to keep my own grief private. But since this massive outpouring on facebook and since I can't physically be at his memorial service I thought I might hold my own personal memorial here and hope they understand.
Our shared story started 15 years ago in 1999 back in Canley Vale High School. We had music class together and I sat directly in front of him. We exchanged some witty banter and I liked him immediately for his beautiful smile, his quick remarks and of course, who could forget those luscious locks which in those days he wore in his trademark pony tail trailing past his shoulders.
This led to a whirlwind of a high school romance that lasted a month. He was my first kiss and the whole situation was very sweet and looking back now, pretty funny. No one knows how to conduct a relationship at the age of 14 and so the romance ended but not the friendship. The friendship skipped over a few years. He went on to date the lovely Sze Lok who I had chance encountered in front of Starbucks at Central Station and I went on with Kevin who became the love of my life.
But altogether we developed a Seinfield-like sort of life us July born babies. When Kevin and I moved to Clovelly, Chris had moved to Paddington and Phil was living in the Inner West we would get together at Cook + Phillip Pool for a weekly swim, play frisbee at Cetennial Park and go for jogs on Bondi Beach. And then there were the dinners out. Phil loved good food so he loved it when we went to Jazz City Diner for some friend chicken on waffles or some roti at Mamak. He made us his famous homemade spaghetti which was spectacular and I remember laughing at him for making the most over the top 'Yummmm' kind of noise on the first bite of a meal I made for him once. He always exuded so much appreciation and love.
He hired out music studios where he and Kevin would just play all morning. Phil especially loved trying to perfect famous rock songs which he would always tell me about and I would listen with a smile but never truly understood what he was going on about. Sorry Phil. And when I started up my craft market stall he was my biggest supporter though I suspected he only bought my stuff to buoy my spirits. I remember having doubts about whether or not I could do it and he said with so much conviction 'Toni, you're one of the most creative people I know' which kept me going.
He loved to talk. Oh man, did he love to talk. Once we were eating burgers at a restaurant and we had all finished ours but Phil was sitting there with three quarters of his burger left from sheer determination to finish his story which of course with Phil, are never short. I remember us laughing at him and he said "If I eat, how am I supposed to talk?". He was a sponge for knowledge, also reading on different political views and telling me of the intricacies of Leo Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina' and how he loved the detailed characterisation. He loved his housemates as they taught him about growing organic foods and helped to build an earth ship (house made from mud) one summer.
Those were our glory days in the sun and even with the development of his cancer he kept going with the same spirit but with stunted strength. And now, he is gone. There are no new stories to share, just old ones that will replay over and over again. But every time I see a brilliant sunset or a distant flock of birds, I'll think of him and hope that he is still out there somewhere in this universe, just being him. And maybe then, I won't feel like I've lost him.