I don’t think I’ve ever paid quite so much attention to how guilty I feel about being a bad friend as I do today. Embarking on a PhD, and indeed a career abroad, feels so selfish sometimes, as if the friends we’ve left behind don’t matter any more. Sure, you keep in touch, but being there physically has an emotional power you just can’t convey in writing. It’s the age-old case of words being not enough!

It feels like people have so much potential in them to be caring, nurturing friends, if only they’d put aside their concerns for a flourishing career, a fat pay packet, fast cars. And however much I don’t feel that way, here I am, working on my career all the same. However much time it takes to write an email or a card, or a whole letter, it still feels like it’s not enough. I would feel so much happier if I could take care of my friends the way I want, and here we are, the ways of the world are preventing me from doing what I want. Again.

How many times have I been through this.

I still half-believe he died because I didn’t deserve him, like I was a bad friend, like I didn’t love him enough. When you start taking people for granted, even if you feel thankful for all you’ve been blessed with every day, I suppose it still isn’t enough. It isn’t enough because you still aren’t there in person to love them, to face life’s battles together. And the person I’m thinking of when I write this slowly starts blurring, fading, and insinuating into another, and another. It is the same with almost all the people I love and care about in the world. This impossible distance, and the emotional aloofness it creates, forcefully, no matter how much you try to stop it.

I’ve already established that life is simply too short. Until these days it had been just another cliche for me, but now that I’ve experienced all that’s happened, I finally see how real it is. It’s amazing the way we, humankind, have protected ourselves so well from the worries of death by building society and all its half-corrupt institutions that promise intellectual enlightenment as if that were some force that could reckon with death. Fools! Nothing can reckon with death. When it comes, it comes, and then you’re gone. And it doesn’t matter where you go. You just go.

So what are we here for?

For all my faith in science, I’d still like to believe I’m here for my friends. If we don’t reach enlightenment, who cares? If I am a bad friend, I am a bad friend all the same. Not science, not academia, not even nature can change that. Only I can. So have I? Have I become a good friend yet? What does it mean to be a good friend?

And suddenly a dead man becomes the answer to all my questions.