In the days following his murder – though the Jury deemed it to be Death by Dangerous Driving – often I would find myself, in the middle of the night, inconsolable and alone, on the bridge where he met his tragic end. An instantaneous end. Murder, in my book, for it was deliberate, unprovoked, drug-fuelled. Fleeing the scene, when he could have been alive, callous in extremis.
On the tarmac, forensic officers painted white circles to highlight where the various parts of his body were found; mostly the smashed teeth, I think. Even now, twenty years on nearly to the day, each time I see a painted circle around a pothole in the road, I think of him. What would he have become? Would we still be friends? Frankly, I cannot imagine him as anything other than the student with whom I lived, frozen in time.
For many years after, I relished the pain, the anguish. Such intense, profound, all-consuming grief surely meant that we had been good mates, right?
These things shape you – don’t they just? – but, sadly, foolishly, maddeningly, it’s only in my latter years when I have come to realise that each person has battles – won and still ongoing – that we know nothing about. Don’t judge others! It is often said that if each person’s problems were clear to see, then we would choose our own troubles. That is certainly true for me.