27 July 2011

All the things that might have been

Twenty five years ago today a friend of mine died. He was twenty three. His name was Steve.

Not long after I arrived in London I met him through mutual friends. He was only three years older than me, but a Londoner born and bred. And a genuinely nice bloke. To me, it felt like he knew everything and everyone. He had tireless energy, for work, for music, for clubbing, for everyone.

People used to call us boyfriends, but we weren't really. We were close - I was probably, emotionally, closer to him than a few of the people who were my boyfriends, over the time we knew one another. We'd crash in each other's beds, spend evenings on each other's sofas, and probably did seem, from the outside, like and old married couple.



When he first got ill he battled on, dismissing it as nothing. And we watched as he got worse, lost weight, lost his energy, lost his lust for life. And although we all worried, and told him to go to the doc, no one did anything more - because he was Steve, and he knew everything.

Turns out he pretty much knew the diagnosis, too, and didn't want to hear it coming out of the mouth of a professional. Because that would make it real and undeniable.

It was very hard, watching the life seem to ebb out of him. But it was harder watching his friends abandon him. I don't know that I can entirely blame them. It was fear, nothing else. It was the terror of none of us not knowing, really, if we could catch it. If we might, in him, be seeing our own futures. Of course not everyone abandoned him. There were a group of us who did everything we could. But it would never be enough.

Sometimes, in dark moments, I used to wonder what would have happened if he hadn't died. If he could have stopped me ever getting together with Bryan. If we could have been 'real' boyfriends. If he would never have caught it, if we'd got together. You always think about the paths you didn't take, don't you?

But here I am. With John, and the boys, who are collectively the best thing that's ever happened to me. And with a destination this good, you can't complain about the journey, can you? It would have been great if he hadn't died. He had a lot to offer the world. It would have been nice if Bryan hadn't been an utter bastard. I would vastly prefer it if John hadn't been shot. It would have been better for the world if someone hadn't been murdering people on the moors of Devon.

But if any one of those things had changed, then I probably wouldn't have the life I do now, and for that life, I'm grateful every single day.

Thinking of you, Steve.

98 comments:

Bronwyn said...

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

Anyone you love as much as you love Steve, must have been a good man indeed, Greg. I'll light a candle.
Yours,
Bronwyn

Tink said...

"There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is."

Albert Einstein was wise in more ways than one. I'll be lighting a candle too, and I'm here as long as you'll put up with me. He sounds like he was a great friend indeed.

*hugs tight*

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Thanks, both of you.

Like I just said on another post, I suppose he was more like a big brother to me than anything else. I loved him like family, rather than like a boyfriend. He was a great friend to a lot of people.

I hope there will be plenty of people who knew him thinking about the good times he brought us all today.

Tink said...

There should be since he was so central to so many people during that time. I hope that you remember his smile and the sparkle in his eyes always.

And your journey has brought you through hell and right back up into the ever so human world where you've got John and the boys like you said. I was kind of saving this blessing for another day, but today feels appropriate too:

May the best of your past be the worst of the future, my friend.

Desert Wanderer said...

There's not much anyone can say to make a day like today any easier. And maybe being hard is what makes it worthwhile, since it means he was special enough to have impacted people's lives.

Take care of yourself today, Lestrade, whether it means sapce or snuggles.

Desert Wanderer said...

...space, dammit, not "sapce." Sorry.

Ro said...

You can't ask for more than to be remembered so fondly. Although we never knew Steve, we can remember him fondly too, as some one who had such a positive impact on a man we respect. Rest in peace, Steve.

innie said...

He sounds wonderful. I'm so glad you had someone so splendid in your life, and I bet Steve was made happier every day by you being part of his.

KHolly said...

It's easy to play "what if", or "if only" even when you like how your life has ultimately turned out. How can you not when it's so clear that the world would be better off if Steve were still in it. Every once in a while it's ok to indulge that as long as you don't get stuck there. I think my answer to what if Steve were still here is that he'd still be acting like your big brother and he'd be so proud of the man you've become and so happy that you've found John and the boys.

When I was 19 I had a friend/mentor/person helping me find my feet in adulthood who died. She was 21. The circumstances were very different from yours, but the feeling that the world would have been better if she were still in it I think is pretty similar. The thing is I know she impacted me not just in how she lived but in how she died. I became very stubborn about doing all the things she'd been encouraging me to do even though those same things had put her in a vulnerable position. I am who I am from those experiences. I don't want to be different from who I am, but I do wish she hadn't died, that none of that had happened. It can spin around in your head, you know.

Then I break myself out of it by thinking what would she write on my FB wall if she were here (because realistically we'd have ended up in different cities after uni)? And it would have been something like "congratulations! Now go out there and kick butt". So I go out there. And I think that's the best way to remember her, to still take her advice.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Sorry to hear you lost someone so important too.

I do think about what he'd have thought of me - of John and the boys, of where I've ended up. He'd be overjoyed. He'd be amazed that we could live in a family unit and have the support of so many people. It's the kind of thing he fought for. He'd chide me for taking so long to come out at work, but he'd be proud that I have.

I won't be stuck in a World of 'what ifs' now. I have been, before. But that's when the real world wasn't so good. Now the 'what ifs' are passing thoughts. The reality is (hopefully) here to stay, and I can't think of anything better.

John H. D. Watson said...

He sounds like a wonderful person. I'm so glad he was there for you, and you for him, as well. I know he couldn't have had a better friend.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Thanks, that's... that means a lot, from you, really.

I think the two of you would have got on. Both wonderful, caring people, with big hearts.

Anonymous said...

Nothing really to say, but have a hug from the hobbit.

(anonymously again - thesmallhobbit)

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Thanks.

John, I'm going to head up to the cemetery in a bit. Want to feed the boys? Or wait until I'm back? I won't be too late, I don't think. Anything you want?

piplover said...

*Hugs*

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

And John, thanks for offering to come with me. I really do appreciate it. But I think it's just something I need to do on my own, for now. Thanks, though. It was very kind of you.

John H. D. Watson said...

All right. I did think it might be, but I also thought I should offer. And you're welcome, always.

We'll wait till you're back to eat, and no, nothing we need.

Kholly said...

Thanks Lestrade. Hugs all around today, eh?

Sherlock said...

If you really liked him and slept in the same bed like you and John do why wasn't he your boyfriend?

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

We didn't always sleep in the same bed. And...he wasn't the person I kissed. He was just a very good friend.

There are different ways of liking and loving people. And sometimes it's hard to explain why you like one person one way, and another in another way. But you just do. And sometimes the way you feel changes over time. It's not something that can really be explained very easily. You just know, when it happens.

Are you having a nice day, Sherlock? Done anything fun?

Sherlock said...

We had races with the dogs in the park but they always won but I got muddy and looked for frogs and then we came back and I tried to draw Harvey's sarcophagus but it didn't work right. I think I need to try again.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Sounds like a good day.

I think all the frogs will have gone away now, until next season. That's why now is a good time to build a new pond. And the dogs do have a 2 leg advantage over you.

Danger - on the way home in a minute.

Sherlock said...

Where did they go???

Anonymous said...

*hugs* Greg, Steve sounds like he was a wonderful person, and a good man to have had in your life. I hope you get some cuddle time tonight with John and the boys.

And Sherlock, sometimes, two people can become very close to each other and treat each other like siblings. They're always there for each other, no matter what happens. It's a very special kind of friendship, and I hope you have many in your life.

-A

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Sherlock - they get out of the ponds they breed in and either find somewhere damp and dark on the land to burrow into, or they go to bigger, deeper ponds. You still might see some - depends how deep the pond is. But they need to find somewhere to hibernate. Then next year they'll be back - and maybe some of the ones which were froglets this year will return too, so you'll see them again.

We'll make sure your pond has good deep bits as well as some shallow parts for frogspawn.

Anon - Yes, he was. There were two other bunches of flowers on his grave. Which made me totally lose it, if I'm honest (and old lady gave me a tissue and held my hand!), but I'm very glad other people are remembering him too, and it made me feel a lot better, ultimately.

John H. D. Watson said...

It's good to cry for the people we miss, I think.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Yeah. It is. And I didn't think I would. Spent all day hoping that other people hadn't forgotten him. But when I saw that they hadn't, it just made me feel like...I don't know, sorry for them, too, I suppose.

I'm glad I went. I feel better for it.

Sherlock said...

Good, I don't want them to go anywhere.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

They'll be back, don't worry. And next year they'll have a new pond to live in, and lay their frogspawn in.

Won't exactly be a quiet life for them...not with you lot. But I'm sure they'll like it.

Nicky said...

Thinking of you, Orio.

I know I only met Steve once, but I remember how good he was for you, and how kind he was. I wish you had told me what was going on, when he died, but I understand why you didn't.

Give John a big hug. You both deserve it.

(And good luck with the pond digging - my two are quite jealous, Sherlock!)

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Thanks Nicky.

Have a nice holiday. See you all soon.

Mycroft said...

Did you call her about going to visit?

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Yes. I've got a range of possible dates. I'll tell John so he can work out who's busy when and we can work out the best time to go.

We'll have to work out some transport, too. I'm not sure the dogs would like it on the train much. Maybe hire a car/van/artic or something?

John H. D. Watson said...

One of Anthea's enormous vehicles?

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

That sounds like a very bad euphemism.

But yes, I suppose one of those would be ideal. I assume you've driven some fairly large 4x4s in your time?

John H. D. Watson said...

That also sounds like a euphemism. Ha.

Yeah, no problem.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Good. We can share. (If Anthea agrees.)

Now that looks totally wrong.

Good. We can share driving. If Anthea agrees to lend us a vehicle.

I think I need to sleep. Will try to actually stay in bed tonight until a reasonable hour tomorrow morning.

John H. D. Watson said...

Sounds like an excellent plan.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Although will sulk slightly that 3 people have voted City on your poll. Sort your readers out, Danger!

John H. D. Watson said...

What! Who would do such a thing?

X said...

I'm sure if anyone voted City, it was by mistake Lestrade! I know I had to take a moment, being a non-Londoner, to figure out the acronym for Scotland Yard since I was thinking that you're the police for the city, and therefore the other might have been correct.

(in all honesty, there was also a moment of Discworld geekery there where I was thinking of the City Watch --- Danger, back me up on this one, there is something Vimesish about Lestrade sometimes. Or is that just me??)

Im sorry for your loss as well, Lestrade. There are some people who, when they touch our lives, we know they won't be the same again. Clearly he was one of those people for you, and I'm sure he would be glad to be remembered as such and so fondly. Sending my ehugs along with everyone else's.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Tell Sherlock that his holiday task tomorrow is to track them down.

For now though, just come to bed?

John H. D. Watson said...

Happy to.

X - good point. Maybe I'll let them off. This time. (And yes to L's Vimesishness.)

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

X - we don't police the city. The Met police do Westminster and Greater London. The City Force police the square mile of The City. Hence the rivalry. They're the smallest police force in the UK. And we surround them. It's war. (on the pitch, anyway)

And thanks.

X said...

L -- ah, sorry. Having grown up in various Canadian cities, I had the perception of one unified force for the entire area like was always the case there. Now I better understand the rivalry. :)

J -- haha, glad it isn't just me, then. Though would that cast you as Lady Sibil?

Anonymous said...

X - Considering that Lady Sibil raises dragons *for fun*...the parallel is entirely possible.

So, John, how *do* you feel about dragons? =)

Greg - That sounds...confusing, drawing the boundaries between the Yard and the City. I'm assuming that proximity does not bred easy communication when it comes to cross-jurisdiction cases? (And I'm glad to hear that you're planning for time off soon!)

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Anon - It's not so bad. We all just want the job done. We save up all the bad feeling for match days. :)

Yeah, can't wait. I feel like I'm in detention at the moment. Everyone getting holidays apart from me. It's tricky though, with court dates and cases.

Tink said...

Those Three City Voting People: I disown you until you change your vote. You can, you know! There's a link! (You also are required, after changing your vote to NSY, to wear black and white on match day.)

>_> Actually, that last bit goes for everyone!

Greg: I think the NSY will have the only international cheering section! :D Also, I'm glad today went as well as it did. I'm even happier that there had already been people before you to show they remembered and still cared. *HUGS*

Nicky: He's a good guy, your Orio. So will you make it to match day? Or the Digging of The Pond?

(Hope you boys got sleep. Or are, you know, awake again only after deep sleep and current protest.)

Bronwyn said...

Can I just state, for the record, that sometimes a woman just needs some cheese toasties? Besides, you cannot hold me responsible for the cheese in your daughter's hair if you posted pictures of it to your flickr account. I think it's a constitutional amendment. It could have been peanut butter.
Love,
Your Sister, Purveyor of Sneaky Snacktime

Bronwyn said...

Can I also state, for the record, that the previous comment was meant to go on my little brother's blog in the other window? *points to other tab* It also has a black background and thus, I utterly failed to notice the error until the motorcycle flashed past after I hit the post comment button. Sorry about that. *blushes fiercely*
Sorry,
Bronwyn

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

For all I know, Tink, those three could be City of London coppers. I don't mind people supporting the m- it's all for charity at the end of it, so both teams deserve support.

We did indeed get sleep. Didn't get up until 6. and tomorrow I have the first of three days off (I hope) which I'm looking forward to immensely. Running a case which is a little stressful, so there's a chance I might get called in. But not tomorrow!

Bronwyn, if you're offering, I'll have a toasted sandwich.

LadyMaya said...

I think you're very lucky to have had someone like that even if you had to lose him. I hope you're doing ok though, anniversaries are always hard.

mazarin221b said...

Sorry, L, that you had a bit of a rough day yesterday. But even with the pain, that you remember your young friend all these years later is good, and hopefully brings more joy than sorrow.

(on a lighter note - Bronwyn, can I have a cheese toastie? I ate my cereal this morning but I'm hungry. So yes, sometimes I woman just needs a cheese toastie and damn the consequences.)

John H. D. Watson said...

X and Anon - I think I am raising dragons for fun, aren't I?

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

When I was young (and possibly slightly more foolish than I am now) i wanted a huge tattoo of a dragon on my back. Never got it, obviously, i'm glad to say. I think I'd feel a bit silly now.

Doing anything fun, Dangerous one? And how are the little dragons today?

John H. D. Watson said...

Might look nice. The big ones take forever to do though.

THey're looking up information on Egyptian tombs and other sorts of booby traps. I think a trip to the library might be in our future.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Lack of time and money was what stopped me doing it when I was younger.

But now I'd be some old guy with a badly done tattoo - glad I didn't go through with it. I think the levels of skill and technology have advanced a long way now.

Looking stuff up together? That's good.

I've got to go and do some work, I'll be around sporadically, though. Enjoy your afternoon.

John H. D. Watson said...

Sherlock's got him interested in the physics of it. I imagine the results will be...complex.

All right. You too.

X said...

John, that is very true (though I expect Sherlock would object on the basis that DRAGONS ARENT REAL, capslock and all). So yes, I suppose the comparison is apt: Sibyl was always pretty badass herself, and took good care of her Vimes. :)

Now I feel we're on a roll. Is Sally Angua? Mummy Lord Vetinari? (though Mycroft would be a fab Patrician once older). If Sherlock isn't a dragon, he might be a Feegle: tiny, ferociously independent, and a natural disaster. ;)

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Interviewing victims... don't think enjoyable can come into it.

Hopefully it will be useful though, and we'll get s result.

innie said...

John, I meant to ask if you have a tattoo yourself? From your RAMC days, perhaps?

John H. D. Watson said...

L - I hope it does prove useful. I suppose that's the best anyone can hope for in that situation. Good luck.

X - I'm sure he would, but he'd probably accept the metaphorical comparison to a scaly beast happily. Mummy is definitely Vetinari. Sally as Angua, yeah, I can see that. They're lacking a Carrot though. I suppose he's as mythical as dragons really.

John H. D. Watson said...

Innie - I did have, but it was very small and it was where I got shot. That took care of most it, and the surgery and scarring finished it off. It was pretty terrible anyway, to be honest. A friend of mine did it with a sewing needle. I don't know what I was thinking.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

What was it, Danger?

John H. D. Watson said...

You wouldn't believe me if I told you.

Anonymous said...

...a jar of jam...?

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Tortoise. Playboy bunny. My initials. Barcode. Arsenal badge. Tweetie pie. Italian flag. Troll. Met badge. Your initials. Chemical symbol for nitro glycerin. Red cross.

Go on, tell me.

John H. D. Watson said...

I'm not sure I should now. Watching people try to guess is entertaining. It's not your initials though.

Desert Wanderer said...

Blue unicorn?

John H. D. Watson said...

Ha! No, I'm afraid not.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Faerie. Christmas tree. A number. Chinese symbol you were told meant 'bravery' but actually meant 'dimwitted'. Jellyfish. Marmite trademark. Nike swish. 'danger'. The entire works of Shakespeare. Two intertwined male symbols. Rainbow flag. Shoe. Snake.

Desert Wanderer said...

Holy cow, Lestrade. I would love to play Outburst with you. Or just do a free association round. Your mind seems to work the way Sherlock's does.

John H. D. Watson said...

Shoe?? Who gets a tattoo of a shoe?

This is the one you need, of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i12llq7Ofw

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

You said I wouldn't believe you, and then you're surprised I suggest unbelievable things...

Will watch whatever that vid is when I'm not at work.

Anything we need for dinner/breakfast tomorrow? Do the boys want fruity pancakes in the morning?

Sherlock said...

YES!

John H. D. Watson said...

It seems they do. Half of them at least. Mycroft says can they have blueberries?

I know, but a shoe? I understand the reasoning behind the rest of them, more or less.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Bet Google would produce shoe tatts.

Blueberries, yup

I'll see what else looks good. Shouldn't be too late tonight.

Spider?

John H. D. Watson said...

I have now googled. You are correct, although many of them are horseshoes.

Excellent. Can't wait to see you.

Ha, no. Think simple shapes. He was a pretty good artist but he'd never tried doing a tattoo before.

Becca said...

Simple shapes like triangle, square, circle?

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Can't wait to see you either. All of you. Meaning you and the boys. Not just all of you personally.

What time do we need to go tomorrow? And are we travelling en masse or what?

Four leaf clover. Cross. Target. Bird. Stick figure. Giraffe. I'm getting close to giving up. Mug of tea.

innie said...

I know I'll be in a world of trouble for this . . . but was it Robin Sparkles?

No, hmm, probably not, as you wouldn't have been able to tattoo appropriate amounts of glitter to surround her like a halo.

Just tell me it wasn't anything in Sanskrit.

mazarin221b said...

A heart?

(innie - hee!)

John H. D. Watson said...

Target

Bullseye, so to speak.

(And Robin Sparkles, apart from anything else, is not a simple shape!)

innie said...

Wait - I don't mean to make light of your experience, but I want to make sure I have this right. You got a target tattoo on your chest/shoulder and then that's where you were shot? Really?

(hee, mazarin - it was irresistible!)

mazarin221b said...

Target

Bullseye, so to speak.


Oh, now that's just wrong. I'm surprised you survived the irony of it.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Given it's you, I would believe that.

Robin Sparkles seems pretty simple to me, though. But you're right, hard to get enough glitter involved.

John H. D. Watson said...

Really and truly. I said you wouldn't believe me if I told you.

To be fair to my 20-something self, it wasn't intended to be a target, as in, someone please shoot me, but... Well.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

I won't ask what it was intended as a target for.

Leaving shortly, but via the shops.

John H. D. Watson said...

I'll blog about it. :P

John H. D. Watson said...

What time do we need to go tomorrow? And are we travelling en masse or what?

Missed this before, sorry. 10am and yes, en masse. Anthea's going to fetch Mrs Holmes, and then us. Unless you want to take the bike? We could meet them there.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Probably easier to go together, isn't it? Whatever Mycroft wants, though. Don't want him to feel like we're abandoning him.

John H. D. Watson said...

Given it's you, I would believe that.

Missed this as well. Choosing to believe you meant my life is just that bizarre, and not that I'm the sort of idiot who'd draw a target on himself before walking into a war zone.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

Yeah.

Although you are an idiot sometimes. Must be, given you ended up with me ;)

Anon Without A Name said...

Mazarin, Innie - I'm so glad it wasn't just me that had that reaction :-)

And having read the comments through, I am now craving cheese toasties and another tattoo.

Bronwyn said...

Sometimes you DO need cheese toasties. My brother was giving me grief because his 20 month old chose to wear hers rather than eat it. And if I could figure out how to send sandwiches through the internet, I would provide toasties for everyone. Because mine are made with cheddar and swiss on dark bread with lots of butter. Amazing. Served with avocado smoothies. yum.
Later,
Bronwyn

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

I'm fairly sure cheese toasties are against rugby-diet rules. Speaking of which, we failed to run today.

Why did we do that, Danger? I mean, apart from me being late and needing to feed small people and all that stuff.

John H. D. Watson said...

You look really tired, and a bit down. Didn't want to inflict anything else on you.

Greg 'Orio' M F Lestrade said...

I'm okay.

Just did a post. Just a short one

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