please don't let me be misunderstood.
late saturday night lauren and i were in the process of settling for the night while having a hopping-from-one-topic-to-the-next-type-of-conversation.
"i've got some bad news for you, by the way. have you recently talked to evan?"
i said i hadn't.
she asked whether evan had told me about gareth. i told her he hadn't.
"gareth died of leukemia in november, despite having received a bone marrow transplant last january."
that first second, i froze. then i freaked out. then i got terribly sad. all within a second.
during the next few minutes, i kept thinking about gareth, evan's brother, who was always an ally of mine.
gareth who pronounced my name so funnily. gareth who poked jokes at me. gareth who taught me how to eat vegemite toasts and how to play afl 2003. gareth who would stand at the heater on winter evenings with kirsty. i kept thinking about him never becoming a doctor. i wondered how the family dealt, how his twin sister did. i tried to imagine the family without him, and i couldn't.
i kept thinking about evan's mom, wondered whether she could manage and grief overwhelmed me, leaning against my chest of drawer, playing with the earings i had just taken out, muttering "fuck. fuck. fuck." in disbelief, wondering whether i would ever find the right words to say to his family.
i got sad about evan and mine relationship, too, wondering whether anything we ever had, had ever meant anything if he hadn't told me about his brother's sickness and death.
it was shattering news.
i kept repeating "i wonder why evan never told me, i wonder what was so wrong with us, if he didn't feel the need to tell me" to lauren.
she didn't know either.
i asked her whether she knew any details.
"all i ever heard, being in sydney, was that he had gotten a bone marrow transplant in january. and then in november, someone posted to the website a note saying that "gareth i. passed away from complications of leukemia".
it was gareth i. not gareth s.
not evan's brother.
the gareth who had passed away was the gareth who was one of the kids evan and i looked after together, that winter that we met.
relief and more sadness were a strange amalgam in my head and heart that very moment.
relief that it wasn't evan's brother, relief that all i had worried about those few minutes was not the case.
and sadness at gareth's death.
gareth, who'm we had all called gaz that winter. who had injured his foot playing basketball at school. gareth who was a nice kid, kinda odd, the kind you knew would be much cooler a few years to come. gaz was a good guy, a good kid on the exchange programme. i've got a picture here that shows him in bavaria that winter, carrying evan on his hands with 5 other kids. he's smiling, broadly.
i'll write a note to his parents.
and i felt and feel a guilty, too, for being relieved, that first moment i realised it was him.