When I looked out the kitchen window, there was an ambulance parked outside. Unsure of whether or not they had the right address, my emotions went from panic to relief as I saw Jeff hopping out of the back. He was in his 2nd year of EMT training and had a break. He and his team were in the neighbourhood and he convinced them to stop by my house for a coffee break. He let me hop in the back of the ambulance and he read my blood-pressure. “Too much caffeine in her blood-stream and a lack of real spice in her life”, the playful report read.
That is how it was with us. From the day he started his training, Jeff, my friend and neighbour, stopped by at 6am every morning before his day began and we had coffee in my kitchen. I set my alarm early to have it ready before he got there. At 6am, he knocked on the back door and we sipped coffee and talked about the day ahead. I was in my 2nd year of university, he was training to save lives.
Fast forward 4th of July 1994, I sat in my kitchen reading a book. The phone rang and it was Kevin, Jeff’s best friend. Jeff had finished his training a month before and was working for the local EMT service. The faux medical report Jeff had made for me hung in my bedroom, just above my desk.
“Hi Kev, what’s up?” I said.
He was brief and to the point, as though it took all his will to spit the words out. “Jeff’s dead.”
I dropped to the floor. “No, God no.” This was the measure of ability to process the information. He spoke of a climbing accident, a 70-foot fall, a mistake of judgement on Jeff’s part, attempts to revive him. I can only barely remember what he said. The repetition of my own words over and over again drowning his.
In the months that followed, I cursed fate. How was it, that someone whose only desire was to help people had been taken and others, far less admirable remained. It was my first lesson in death and injustice. Each year, I think back on those days and remember my friend. I try to visit and say hi when I’m at home, give him an update of what I’ve been up to, as in the days before he died.
On my last visit, three years ago, now, I noticed something. A grave beside Jeff’s with his younger brother’s name on it. Attempts to find out what happened to him have been unsuccessful, but I’m haunted by the thought of what his family must have gone through and what they probably still go through.
I’m not sure what this prompt is suppose to be about. Maybe it’s about remembering people who have left us, maybe it’s about the cruel irony of life. Maybe it’s as simple as a reminder that anyone can go at any time, regardless of the date. People are born and die on Chrsitmas Day, Easter, New Years, their own birthday. Maybe this is just rambling, but July is around the corner and an ambulance has driven past my window.
Writing Prompt: Absent Friends