Vivian

A tree of pink blossom sheds its petals over the lawn and the mellow stone headstones in the sun.

Blossom in Canongate kirkyard

I originally wrote this on Thursday last week.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine in America tried to call me via Facebook. I wasn’t sure why, but when she said in Messenger that she had “shitty news” to tell me, I dashed outside at once to call her. She’d been ill for a long time, so it was pretty clear to me what her “shitty news” might be.

“You look really worried!” Vivian said, as my unfortunate fizzog appeared on the screen.

“Oh, I’ve got a resting sad face, I’m afraid. I think it’s the shape of my eyebrows.”

She gave a raucous, filthy chuckle and declared, “I’ve got a resting bitch face!”

Then she told me that she had been given six months to live.

What does one say at a moment like that? But she told me that she was going to fulfill her dream of coming to England; her bucketlist. She was going to go London, then she would go to Manchester and Liverpool – where her two favourite bands of all time were from. And would I go with her on the northern leg of her journey?

Of course I would.

We chatted about this and that – how long had we known each other? Over a decade, through Smiths and Morrissey fandom on Livejournal. She laughed more and more.

Last week, I was in Manchester in the middle of a storm for a couple of days, thanks to work. As I went along the blustery streets, I planned where I would take her. Would she like this street? What about this lovely square? And we’d have to go to the Salford Lads Club, of course.

A couple of days ago, Viv’s sister began to tell her friends, via Facebook, that she was worsening and she only had a week left. I asked her if she could tell Viv that while I was in Manchester, I thought of her.

And this morning, she told us that Vivian had passed away.

Vivian never got to go to Manchester or Liverpool, but I suspect the versions of them in her head were better than the reality. And maybe – I don’t know if the world works this way, but I think it should – because I thought of her while I was in Manchester, she did visit there after all. Some little part of her, her filthy chuckle, perhaps, is there in the wind as it cuts through the city.