I found out a few days ago that Nathan's mum had put the call out to his old cronies at rehab.
"She is searching for people who knew Nathan. She wants to know a little about his life, from people he knew ... Eden, I find you to be an inspiration in life itself and was wondering if you could fit him into a blog or write something I could give his mother. She called me today and told me she had asked many people to write something about him and she had no replies. I think it would make her Christmas to hear just a little of your story about him .. to please write a few words to her, reminding her of what her son was like."
I've never met Nathan's mum. We could cross each other in the street and just keep walking, unaware. The thought of her getting no replies utterly kills me. Imagine asking the strangers who were in rehab with your child .. for some memories of them. Anything. Seriously, imagine how hard that would be.
Nathan's mum, Nathan was beautiful.
He wasn't a tall guy, but he had the friendliest and most gorgeous eyes. And a wicked smile. He was funny .. genuine, friendly, and very cheeky. He and I were just mates ... which was rare for me back then. I had a habit of cracking onto every cute boy I saw, and took extra care in the mirror before the meetings at night.
There was such a camaraderie in that place on Waratah Street. Nathan was very popular, because his heart and laughter were infectious. We'd cruise out in groups for coffee, go to the movies, watch videos late into the night on the weekends.
I miss that place, and the people. It's easy to glamourise and romanticise it ... and holy shit the group therapy. The group therapy. We were pummelled and pulled apart. Some of us got it. Some of us were cracked open just enough to let some clarity in like Jules says in Pulp Fiction.
I saw Nathan "get it" for a while. He and I were actually quite similar. We flitted around, in and out. Had a few false starts and spells around the track. We'd see each other in the street, and always stop and say hi. It's like we were Ralph and Sam, taking it in turns. I'd boost him if he was down and out, then a few months later he's boost me. One day I walked into the fruit and veg shop and there he was, proudly carting the palletes around. He'd got his shit together, and for the first time in a long time, so had I. We were just so fucking proud of ourselves.
I walked past that church that time and I don't know why I went in but I did. And there's Nathan and Paul C, playing the guitar and piano together, just jammin' out. Laughing, and having fun. Straight as the Ace of Spades, both of them. How incredible was Nathan's guitar playing! You must have paid for lessons? People often talked about it.
I'll never forget the time in group when Nathan had just been to the dentist. The therapist was questioning him about the painkillers - what did they give him and how much was he taking?
He had a whole pack of Panadeine Forte, and admits that he wasn't in any pain right then. But he'll hold on to the pack because he *might* be in pain later.
She laughed so hard she had tears, told him what classic addict thinking that was and got him to surrender his pack over. (Begrudgingly.) I didn't know why she was laughing. I completely understood why he'd hold onto it. Pre-empting his pain, I guess.
Nathan's mum, there was more pain to come. He struggled with it. I witnessed it. I heard him share at meetings and then he'd go back out and come back in. It's a real unique hell, that kind of struggle. I am so sorry.
I cried hard when Paul C came running into my room to tell me that Nathan had died in his bathroom. Paul C came to visit me in 2001 when my son was born. He bought him his first ever stuffed toy .. a blue and white puppy called Bones. He still has it. Paul died not long after - heart attack from too much coke.
For so many years I kept thinking that I saw Nathan in the street. It was uncanny. Then I'd realise that he was gone, and wouldn't be pushing the fruit palletes or playing that guitar or lifting weights. Or stroking his new baby girls hair. All of those undone things.
I am so, so sorry.
I wish I had more memories for you. I wish I could blow you away with insight and funny things and reasons why. I passed a photo I had of him onto his daughter, he was at his grad and had a white t-shirt on with jeans and he was happy and proud. You can see it in his eyes.
I don't know why some of us make it and some of us don't. My thoughts are with you as you spend another Christmas without him. I can tell you that I'll never stop thinking about him. Or the others who have gone now too.
I'll try my hardest to honour them by staying on the right path myself and living life to its fullest. For all of us.