Hi, I'm four. This was the first thing that Eric ever said to me. To be fair to him, he was four. I was six I think. It was one of those long hot summers of the seventies. We were doing this amazing trip across the states visiting my mum's friends and we'd got to Liz and Paul's in Minneapolis. He also had a one year old baby sister called Maija. I always remember thinking it was a really cool name, because there was this exotic alien on Space 1999 called Maija. She was only one though, so it was difficult to tell exactly how exotic she was. So in the week or so that we stayed there, my brother and I and Eric became firm friends.
Fast forward to 2004 and Eric is ill. Basically he had a tumour that was slowly eating his face away. All the staff in the hospital loved him because he refused to be a miserable bastard. And he died. It was a week before his 34th birthday. He was obviously not entirely thrilled about dying, but his main concern was for his family and the pain they were going through.
Liz was in a job she loved and suddenly found herself fired with no explanation. This happened just after Eric died. Then Paul was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's. One has to wonder what the family had done to deserve all this?
And now I find myself in receipt of another message from the States and I hardly dare read it. I know no more details other than Maija has died. 34 years old. I don't know how and it's completely out of the blue.
When I think about Liz and Paul and their family I get so angry that life can be so unfair, and find myself wondering how does anyone cope with so much tragedy? No one should have to bury their child, but how does one reconcile all this? Well it takes time. Grief and loss are healed with time, but one also needs a little introspection to try and step back a little and look at their whole life. I'm sure Eric and Maija are up there now looking down on those who knew them thinking, "Wow, we were loved! But we were alive for 34 years each, why is everyone only focusing on our deaths? Oi! Will you lot stop being so bloody miserable, it's not like all we ever did was die! We did loads of other stuff too you know! Don't forget that! Get a bit of perspective!"
Well, writing that was kind of therapeutic for me and I'm grinning now as I sit here typing. We all die eventually, so we just have to make the best of the time we have; that doesn't mean 24 hour partying, it just means, I dunno, be excellent to each other.
PS. You get extra points for spotting the two film quotes.