Cashing in Chips That Aren't Mine
There are people in this shabby world - some I have never met, some I have met for the briefest of times, and some who I have spent scant hours with - who have shown me such kindness over the past months, that it stuns me. I spend a lot of my time thinking about it.
It makes me feel a little fraudulent - as if I am cashing in chips that don't really belong to me. These folks loved Terry, so they have made it their business to show me great care on his behalf. I have done little to warrant it. But, somehow, an email arrives at midnight just when I'm in trouble, asking if I'm OK. Or a text pops up with a sweet, comical story from Terry's teenaged years, and I can hear him and Terry Lowney laughing about it over a coffee and a smoke. Or a letter arrives from an old friend across the water, full of the kind of poetic, bewitching detail that Terry loved, and it makes me want to read it aloud to him for the sheer courtly beauty of it. (I do read it aloud to him, of course.)
People are busy. They have their own concerns and sadnesses. Heaven knows there are plenty of turmoils afoot in the world beyond my personal drama. Yet, they are keeping me in mind.
There are people Terry stepped away from over the years, and there are many who stepped away from him. There are some he kept close for seven decades. There are folks he met on the road and met up with only a few times in his life, but who he shared such a deep kinship with that it seems unbreakable. I know he was grateful for them all. I am too. I talk to him a lot about the kindness they're showing me. He would be touched and probably a bit teary-eyed. But he did keep the good ones close. He knew what they were worth. So he wouldn't be surprised.
'The chains of love they swing together
you can test their strength in stormy weather
true love, true gold can charm the devil
It's the only thing that will keep him tethered.'
Terry Clarke - The Candyman's Last Night
Trevor Rackley, Terry Lowney, Terry Clarke. Photo: Kate Clarke