Today I learnt that an old school friend of mine had died. I am not entirely sure of the details but it was cancer of some description and it looks like it was a pretty swift decline from the initial diagnosis.
He was never a best bosom buddy of mine at school but he was a constant companion from primary school right through to college. Our social circles overlapped and he was always great value on any night out that we shared. It is always a sobering thought when you hear of someone's passing, but when it is a contemporary of yours, it is an especially stark reminder of your own mortality.
I met him again at a school reunion not quite a year ago. I had not seen him, or anyone else there for that matter, for the thick end of 25 years but we shared an hour, beer in hand, as he filled me in on the fates of mutual friends who were unable to attend. He had remembered some of my own predilections and was genuinely interested in the path my life had taken, as I was with his. We didn't exchange promises to faithfully stay in touch for ever and ever, but we did re-connect, if only for that hour, and it remains one of the highlights of what was a very special evening.
I had ummed and aahed about going to that re-union, uneasy about its possible descent into a hullabaloo of lifestyle and financial bragging. As it happens the evening was a thing of rare beauty. A thick blanket of nostalgia comforted us all as we shared stories of times together and of times since. In light of the news today, I can now add that it was rare moment in time to reconnect with those who have shared significant chunks of your life. You may never get the chance to repeat those opportunities.
So here's to Neill Halliday. Congratulations on a life well lived.