Today a year ago, I lost a friend.
Adam was the youngest of my course mates at university. A year ago, he passed away, a young man in his prime. I still don’t know what actually caused his death.
What I do know is that, when news of his passing broke to the group, there was an outpouring of love. It moved me to see how this kid had touched the lives of so many. He was well-liked, as anyone with an Adam-anecdote to share will tell you.
Initial plans were hatched to create a memorial magazine for people who wanted to share what Adam meant to them. I was volunteered as editor, mainly because I do have the software needed. However, responses were abysmal, and some of Adam’s friends tried to prevent others of the group sharing their stories because “Adam wouldn’t have cared about them.” But everybody deals with grief differently, and I would never tell someone they weren’t allowed to grief or share their memories, just because it would piss someone off.
I came under attack as well, from the same people. Cultural differences were glaringly obvious. I come from a place where “life goes on.” You mourn, but you move on. You celebrate the life of the deceased, you share stories far and wide, at the wake and beyond. The memorial magazine was meant to be a written version of those anecdotes that are revealed at wakes. Everyone’s favourite memories. I was accused of profiteering from a “vanity project” (it would have been for free, and I was the only one with layout software) and basically “not grieving right/enough, and not giving it time” and Adam’s “real friends” (read: him) didn’t like the idea. Everybody grieves differently. So I kindly told that person to shove it, and explained that just because my culture deals with death differently, doesn’t mean I’m not mourning a friend.
It’s not a competition.
Two days ago was the fifth anniversary of my graduation. Adam dropped out halfway through our final year. Moving away, we lost touch a bit. But whether we spoke or not in the time leading up to his passing, I considered him a friend to the end. I have no idea whether the same was true for him, but I like to think it was.
Here’s what I wrote about him a year ago:
I have just heard the sad news that my friend Adam Montgomery has passed away.
He was only 25 years old.
Adam and I went to university together, studying journalism in Carlisle. Whether we had lectures together, went for course meals or celebrated various accomplishments like birthdays and surviving another semester, Adam was always the life of the party. He was a very funny young man and a beautiful soul, always cheering everyone up by cracking jokes.
But he was troubled too. While at university, we organised his very first birthday party for him on his 19th birthday. By breaking away from the religion he was raised in (Jehova’s Witnesses) the same year, he lost family support. I am not sure whether they reconciled before he passed away.
His health deteriorated over the last year of his life as well and he was battling MS. But that didn’t put him down, and he never made a fuss about it and didn’t want his friends to make a fuss on his behalf either.
His cause of death is not known at this point; all we know is that he passed away at home in the flat he shared with two of his friends on 18th July. Adam was taken away way too soon and before he had a chance to really make his way in life.
Adam was the one who kept in contact with me while I spent semester breaks in Germany and I have lost count of the amounts of coffees we’ve shared after class.
I will always remember him as the slightly awkward kid (the youngest on our course by a mile) who grew into a funny, lively, lovely and confident (though still slightly awkward) young man who put a smile on the face of everyone he met.
Farewell, Adamski! I hope you are at peace! xoxox