.....And so, another year went by. I came back to Prague and sort of fell into the old routine. I still remembered what Jim has told me about Phoebe, but there was no way I could ever figure out where he could be, because Prague is one huge city. However... my Mother came home one day, holding this magazine I´ve never seen before and said that there is this article about Phoebe. She bought it just "by accident". It wasn´t an ordinary article. This one contained the exact address of Phoebe´s shop. No way would I let this chance slip away.
It was January 2002 when I decided to visit Phoebe in his store. I did find him indeed, and I also had a chance to tell him all what has happened, how did I see Barbara and met Jim, and it all seemed so surreal. I can´t say why, but it almost felt as if someone up there was planning it all along.
I remember Phoebe smiling at me, when he was signing up a dedication into his autobiography "An intimate memoir by the man who knew him best". When I was leaving the shop, his dedication read like this:
And then I returned back to Ireland in 2004.
|He was literally blown right into my way|
I had the opportunity to welcome Jim to my own home in Carlow sometime in 2006. He was Stephen´s surprise. When the door opened up, I didn´t see him at first.
Then his head popped out from the side of the door and with a laugh he emerged a bit later. He hugged me like we hadn´t seen each other for million years. What I felt at that moment was indescripable. My dear Jim back in my life and in my own house!
We all sat in the living room, Jim settled down on the sofa, I was sitting on the ground and absorbed the precious moments because I knew time spent with him was only borrowed time. Then we watched Queen videos and talked about Freddie as if he were in the next room. It was so surreal. Me and Jim agreed that our favorite video was Scandal, and he just added that Freddie didn´t like it very much because he couldn´t make any creative input in it, although he loved the song.
Then we talked about his illness, about him taking up to 40 pills a day to sustain his health and he also explained the difference between AIDS and HIV, as many people still didn´t know. We have talked so much and - above all - we laughed all night, almost at everything. It was so easy to succumb to his funny personality once again and to his heartfelt laughter. He made jokes about fancying my ex-boyfriend, whom he lied on top of on the sofa. Long time ago, I´ve sent him a letter explaining to him how Freddie has impacted my life. But I've forgotten I´ve ever written it and now I was faced with the horror that I actually have sent it. I hoped he has forgotten about it, but when Jim and I met in the corridor of our house, I couldn´t but apologize to him for that letter, and for being so daring. To my surprise, he looked at me softly with his tired eyes and assured me that my letter was absolutely fascinating. Then we were interrupted by Stephen, who was just leaving a toilet and the conversation was cut short at that point. Unfortunatelly I would never have the chance to find out what was the next thing he was about to say, because I noticed he wanted to continue, if he weren´t interrupted.
When we were saying goodbye at the door, he treated me as an old friend. He simply kissed me on the lips, which utterly shocked me and made me laugh at the same time.
He invited us back to his house to have a little party, but my ex-boyfriend was not in the perfect mood and so we politely declined, which I will forever regret!
About a year after that I bumped into Jim several times in the city where we both lived, or we exchanged text messages whenever I needed to advise what room flowers would be best for our new house. Sometimes I learnt about how he´s doing through my ex-boyfriend, who used to hang out with him and drink few pints in a night bar. Once my ex confessed how Jim told him that I was a great person and he should be happy to have me. They must have been talking about me!!!!
Then I met Jim one night in the nightclub, where he was with his friends. He spent most of his time sitting in the lounge smoking a cigarette, having fun with younger girls. Wherever he was, you heard his laughter. That night my ex-boyfriend arranged for Jim and me to have a dance together.
Jim was just dancing on the dancefloor with some older woman. I remember he had his jumper tied around his waist. I just got onto the dancefloor, he looked at me all serious and pulled me close to him. It was some tediously slow song that I can´t even remember, I just know that we were staggering from side to side like two handiccaped penguins and that made me laugh hysterically.
He was such a clown! Now, however, I consider this moment as one of the most precious memories of him. It was my night.
Back in 2009, I have learned that Jim was diagnosed with cancer. My ex-boyfriend told me how concerned Jim was when informing him. He said, he wept. At that time I didn´t know how serious the situation was and I hoped Jim will get better in no time. I believed the doctors would somehow help him out of it. I saw him a little later at work when he came to our restaurant for breakfast.
I almost served him as another customer, but when I realized it was him, I pulled myself back into the kitchen and let the other girls serve him. He never noticed. I was in such state of shock. I didn´t know what to do, how to act and what to say. He was so thin, just skin and bone. His face was sinking, his eyes full of pain, a small tube leading from his nose to the oxygen device he carried in his backpack and a small canvas hat on his head. I couldn´t believe this was Jim, whom I have remembered being so full of life and joy only half a year ago. I wanted to cry like never before. I also felt embarassed by my own cowardly reaction. I wished more than anything in my life to hug him and say I loved him. I wanted to wish him a happy Christmas. But I was scared of my own tears, which would not help him in his situation.
I wrote him a message on the phone, but he didn´t respond. And then I got the terrible news. Jim died and somehow I also missed his funeral. I took a first taxi and went at least to his months Mass and visited his grave, bringing him daffodils and little white lantern with candle. It was so hard for me. His relatives stood above his grave. I said my prayers in a minute of silence. The air didn´t move and the moon was full in the night sky. It was dark and cold all around but I didn´t care.
I wanted to see him laugh and mess around like he used to. It was as if another star had disappeared and fell to the earth. If only life could last forever.
It´s been nine years since then, but I still immensely miss him and I will never stop. Thank you Jim from the bottom of my heart, that you once accepted me for who I am and allowed me to spend those precious moments in your company. You were dear friend and a great guy with so much to give to this world. And I remember, once you have promised we will meet again, and you knew we will. You knew it all along, you little devil :)
|newspaper clipping from the saddest day of my life|