I chose not to see, one day in April.
Substituted hope for dread. I chose.not to see that day. Years ago now.
I didn't see the dim, overly warm, room, curtains pulled tight against the beautifully bright day.
Chose, instead, to see similar days, sunlight glinting off metal. Warm air rushing by as we rode side by side. Days of sunshine and miles of empty roads. Good days.
I didn't see the plate of untouched food, nor the three stone-cold cups of tea, on the bedside table. Didn't worry about the loss of appetite and the inability to swallow even a sip.
But chose instead, to remember all those nights we ate and drank and laughed. Jokes about the amount of fresh fruit he consumed, unkind remarks about that dreadful tuna salad he insisted on bringing to work, the stink of it masking even the smell of his cigars. Good times.
I didn't see the stubble on his almost bald head, grey upon grey, against the stained pillowcase. Didn't notice the ravages of disease and treatments.
Instead I remembered jet black hair being obsessively combed back, carefully and unhurried, everything could wait till that hair was immaculate. The smile of satisfaction. The comb being placed carefully into his back pocket, easily in reach in case a hair dared to stray. Frustratingly short, beautiful moments.
I didn't see the shaking flesh of his boney hand, struggling to escape the bedsheets to say hello.
Instead I remembered those strong hands, always tanned, as he drove with stunning skill, one of the best drivers I've ever witnessed. Still talked about decades later, the things he could do with car, or van, or motorcycle. Brilliant skill, brilliant person.
I didn't see the dimness in his eyes as we talked about the scenes on the small TV on the wall. Preparing for that year's Grand National. Fools and horses held no interest for either of us.
Instead I recalled days at Aintree, crowds and crimes, chases at the steeplechase, always having each other's backs, always having fun amongst the chaos. Great days, legendary days.
I didn't see the look of doubt on that face when I said I'd pop by after night shifts had finished. Didn't see the agony of knowing next week was too far away.
Remembered those days instead when work and days off rolled together, months and months of constant companionship. Never becoming bored with each other. Phone calls and emailed jokes filled those infrequent days apart. Glorious times.
I didn't see the tears, mine or his, when I said goodbye, didn't see the grateful shock on his face when I kissed his head and told him I'd see him soon.
Instead I allowed him to call me a daft old bugger, and scoffed as he waved me away, telling me to go enjoy my day off with my family instead of mooching around annoying him by blocking the telly. One last funny farewell.
I didn't see him, my best, my oldest, my dearest friend, again.