This is roundabout the time when I would call you, all gushing and apologetic for having missed your birthday. You'd laugh and we'd arrange to meet up with the kids, probably at Georgina's. Ours was a comfortable friendship.
Lately I've been doubting my own sincerity. Were I a real friend I would have remembered your birthday. Especially now that you aren't with us anymore. Such an easy birthday to remember - June 1 for Christ's sake!
Not once have I visited your grave since your funeral. But there's an excuse even for that... I don't believe in such things. We were atheists after all. Or were we?
Perhaps we should have prayed more, been less blase, my dear friend Alexandra. Perhaps we should have been a little more humble. You said, "I'd rather read a good book than spend time with people who bore me." And I took it as a compliment that you never read books in my presence. We were never at a loss for words, were we? But all those people who are now standing beside your family are the ones who always remember you aloof, with your nose buried in a book.
As for your dearest friends, we have all betrayed you, Alexandra. Not one of us has made a positive contribution to your family since you died regardless of our best intentions and our selfish need to keep you alive within the eyes of your children.
"Her husband and mother don't let us in!" has been a most comfortable cop-out. A louse's exit from your life and death.
All I've managed to do, Alexandra, is observe from a distance. I observe disastrous changes in your eldest daughter who loiters around the streets and hangs about with hoodlums. I am told your youngest is dragged to primary school, kicking and screaming every day, every day, every day...The middle one, I hear little about and this is why she concerns me the most.
Your husband no longer has you to tout his PhDs and other medical credentials but thanks to Vicky he went back to work. They accepted him back despite months of unexplained absence. "How can I save people's lives when I've lost everything?" he asked. I explained that he had to be well for the children and he made the mistake of saying, "They are my tails! A burden!" When I told him to do it for you he said he is angry with you for dying. He tried to convince me that you chose to die as though dying is a choice like infidelity. I don't even know this man, Alexandra. Everything I have known about your husband has been a lie seen through your eyes, the eyes of a woman in love. I cannot feel sorry for him.
Georgina says that he drinks because he is mourning, he fucks around cause he is mourning, he hates the kids because he is mourning... Georgina, the woman we gossiped about while drinking coffee at her shop, has supported your husband more than your dearest friends.
Is that why I've not been seeing you in my dreams lately, Alexandra? Is it because you are angry that I have not stood by your family as I should have done? Or is it because, like me, you are too busy observing the family you held strong disintegrate and crumble? Or does it just mean that I am slowly forgetting you?
Sorry for forgetting your birthday. Sorry for being a fairweather friend. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. "Sorry is half a shit!" we'd say. Remember?
I'd like to say I love you because this is how I believe myself to feel and because I miss you and find myself crying about you at the oddest of moments, but my actions evidently disprove the presence of love so I'll just say nothing.
Your one-time friend who is now a Purple Cow.
* What do you think of this artwork by Niklaus Manuel Deutsch? It is called "Death and the Maiden" (1517). Perhaps you are the maiden who did not resist death as your dreadful lover. Someday, he'll be my lover too...