You can imagine my surprise when I got to his place and found he was up and about in the middle of the afternoon. I found him sitting on the floor with his back me, with a bunch of books laid out in front of him. Surprisingly, none of them were the old worn hardback kind that lined the walls of the room. Instead, these were all paperbacks, some going back as far as the 1980’s.
Naturally, this piqued my curiosity so I quietly went over to him and took a look at the covers. They were colorful with amusing artwork. All of them were by the same author… Terry Pratchett.
Immediately my heart sank. “Did he…?”
Nathan nodded. “It was all over the internet this morning,” he sighed and looked up at me. “I’m surprised you didn’t already know.”
“Marisa and I have a dance class at 8:00 AM, so I didn’t have a chance to get online,” I replied and sat down next to him. As soon as I settled in, I rested my head against his shoulder. “I remember when you introduced us to him when we went to England with you. He was really nice. I like him.”
“He was amazing,” Nathan smiled. “Not that he thought it, but you, me and a lot of other people out there did.”
“At least we have his books and stories to remember him,” I pointed out.
“I have a lot more than that,” Nathan said with a smile that aroused my curiosity.
“Oh? What did you two have wild night together or something?” I asked innocently, while batting my eyes at him.
“We had a few nights where… HEY!” as cut himself off as the penny finally dropped.
I was still laughing at his reaction as he desperately tried to explain that nothing ‘unnatural’ as he put it, ever happened between the two of them. “We just had a few good laughs together, that’s all,” he finished with scowl that was not remotely intimidating.
Taking his hand I squeezed it and said more seriously, “I know it’s hard losing another friend. It’s not something you ever get used to, is it? No matter how long you’ve been around.”
“No, it isn’t,” he said quietly, as that curious smile suddenly reappeared on his face. “But, I can take solace in the fact that for me they’re never really gone. My memories are different than most people’s.”
“How so?” I asked curiously.
For a moment he didn’t answer. Instead he seemed to be gathering his thoughts and then said, “T think Terry put it best when he said…”
“Now most people, can recall a number of things from their past. But I can recall everything!”
I stared at him in wonder for a moment. “Everything?” I repeated.
He nodded. “Our brains are taking in all kinds of information all the time. The feel of the breeze on our skin, someone’s smile, how it felt to kiss a person you’ve longed for the first time, the works. But it’s so hard to remember every little detail.”
“I can remember a lot of things,” I pointed out.
“Of that I’m certain, but how hard is it to remember all the things that you saw and witnessed in 1999?”
I started to say something then stopped. “You mean, in the entire year? Everything I saw or did within that time?”
Blinking I shook my head. “No, I don’t think I could. I’ve probably forgotten most of it.”
At that point Nathan shook his head, “No you haven’t. It’s all there, but it’s stashed away in different areas of the brain where you can’t always access them. But it’s all there.”
Immediately my mind began picturing photos and letters all scattered about in a huge room inside my head. Only it looked like total chaos. “But you can keep track of it all, can’t you?” I asked.
“With effort, but yes,” he smiled. “I can recall everything friends like Terry ever said or did in front of me. Plus there are always the stories other people told me about him.”
“And you never forget any of it?”
“Not a single thing,” he replied.
“Then, you remember everyone you’ve ever met and all the things they did,” I whispered in awe.
This time his smile became even wider. “Now you got it.”
“So you’re like a walking repository of other people’s lives. The ones who only family and friends knew about, because they never became famous or well known,” I murmured in growing awe.
“That’s definitely one way of looking at it,” he nodded after thinking it over for a few seconds. “And I share those memories with their descendants so they’re never forgotten.”
“So you make sure their memories stay alive,” I smiled.
“I can do better than that,” Nathan winked. “If the person is in tune enough with me, I can share those memories so they can have them as well.”
This was news to me so I quickly begged him to share one with me, which he did. It might not have been the one he’d intended but I saw Mr. Pratchett holding a broom, next to the actor who played “Death” in one of the Discworld movies. Both were pointing at each other with amusement and camaraderie, then I felt something… calm and at peace. I knew that last part came from Nathan. It was how he was feeling about losing another friend.
Having read the Discworld books myself I knew that when Death collected someone there would be a desert for them to cross. “Do you think Mr. Pratchett’s already crossed it?” I asked Nathan as we were still linked.
To my surprise Nathan shook his head and said, “No. Somehow I think he’s in a cottage that is much bigger on the inside, and colored in different shades of black, and is filled with all kinds of cats. Across from him Death is holding out a cup of tea saying, “ALBERT AND I WERE WONDERING IF YOU WOULDN’T MIND STAYING FOR A WHILE AND TELLING US A STORY…” That’s where I think he is, anyway.”
“I think so too,” I smiled and gave Nathan a kiss, knowing the memory of it would never be lost.
**Special Note: The section where Death is talking to Mr. Pratchett was created by my wife Helen, who gave me permission to share it in this entry. Thank you my love.**