On Friday (13th of all days) a dear friend of mine passed away. As everything seems to be done these days, I received the news via electronic media: blackberry messaging, cell text and Facebook. To some extent this allows us to keep life: actual, real, messy, unpleasant LIFE at a manageable, containable, constrainable distance! But at what a price! As I sat in my apartment on Friday evening after receiving the news, I was disturbed by the feeling of numbed detachment that cloaked me! Where were the tears, the sense of loss, all in days passed that where shared in hugging, holding and comforting each other? I could almost sense people all over the world that knew Denley filled with this same almost-detached melancholy and dull ache, all separated by this impersonal place we have created! We should have called each other, raced to each other’s houses or in true Truebods spirit, met at a local pub and shared memories and drinks and tears.
Denley was certainly one of those people: the warm, hands-on,boisterous, in-your-face, loving, giving person who you instantly liked, adored, loved! She was so full of life you could not help but be carried along with her by her sheer force of will and the power of her spirit! I went to a live show at the Barnyard Theatre on Sunday afternoon and as fate would have it it was Icons of the 80’s. If there was ever an icon of the 80’s it was Denley Truebody! This may puzzle those who did not studying teaching at Edgewood College of Education in the mid- to late Eighties. But those who did will certainly agree with me. As I watched these talented artist recreate the 80’s for the audience at the theatre I was transported back to our student days and the College dances in the hall of our student union or the College parties in Mels (the student caffeteria) or Impeys (the local dive in nearby Pinetown). Truebods filled my memories; cigarette in one hand, drink in the other, eyes twinkling, mischievous grin on her face and laugh bubbling up and out from the depths of her belly!
Man, she loved Edgewood and her fellow students and I would not be surprised to hear that she was the same at any school that she taught at! Antiquated phrases like salt of the earth and heart of gold and life of the party spring to mind, but o, they are sooo applicable to her. Denley was anything but superficial though. She saw you and loved you for that person, whoever or whatever you were: jock, nerd, goth, trendy, Christian, boozehound, whatever. I remember her once saying to me: “Andy, you put on this act, like this tough, hardcore, doesn’t give-a-fuck guy but you have the soul of a poet and I see you crying inside”. This was when I had the terrible, breakup with PJ, my great College love, she was there when nobody else was. She supported me when I went through that dumb-ass, youthful, instinctive impulse, that attempt to drink myself stupid to numb the pain and to lash out at everybody. When most people gave up on me she stuck by me and understood and still loved me and
saw me through a really tough time in my life. For someone to look at you and see your pain and want to help ease it, that’s a special person, someone who gives a damn and does something about it! We should all be like that, like our Denley!
The last time I saw her was at my birthday party some 17 years ago, and she had not changed, and I was glad for it!! We hooked up again, as people do these days, on Facebook and it was how I heard of her illness. I wish I had told her how special she was to me and how much she meant to me and what fond, fond memories I had of her but to be completely honest I never for a moment thought she would not beat this! I thought she would be around forever and that I would still see her one day and we would reminisce about old times. Yesterday at the theatre listening to those old 80’s songs I did just that: I reminisced with my dear friend and said goodbye.
For those who did not know her take this with you then: don’t put off telling those special to you what they mean to you and don’t let the last thing you say to them be something trite or hurtful. Treat each moment with them as if it is your last. Your relationship with them and your life will be that much better for it! And for goodness sake, lets get out from behind these electronic walls we’ve created! We think they keep us in touch but they don’t! Invite an old friend to have coffee with you, have a party and invite someone you have not seen in years or just pick up the phone and say “Hi”!
Rest in peace, Dens. I will miss you.