|James ‘Jamibu’ Bullock, 1987 – 2012|
Last week, a friend of mine passed away.
I’ve been putting off writing this, knowing with each day that goes by that I’m going to have to write about it at some point. Because I genuinely don’t know what I can say. Better writers than I have written beautiful memorials for him. They knew him longer, they knew him better and they have the words to express themselves. I have a throat full of emptiness and fingers that dart hesitantly to the backspace key and back every few minutes. Nevertheless, I will try.
His name was James Bullock, but Jamibu was his name. We all knew him as Jamibu, he introduced himself to Jamibu, so Jamibu he was. I met on my first ever session of the University of Nottingham Science Fiction & Fantasy Society. We watched The Last Mimsy. It was awful. I remember how friendly and welcoming he was. I thought he was the society President; turns out he was the webmaster but that didn’t change the warmness of the reception he gave us nervous newbie geeks.
I got to know him little by little, and found our tastes ran in similar directions. Both big Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett fans. Both HUGE Weird Al Yankovic fans. He introduced me to Jasper Fforde, Delain, Dominic Deegan. I introduced him to The 13th Warrior and Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Webcomic. I call that a fair trade.
My girlfriend lived with him, and so I lived with him. I came to know his quirks and habits, as no doubt he came to know mine. He used to expend huge amounts of energy to avoid spoilers – I’ve seen him dash out of the room as soon as the Doctor Who credits roll to avoid the ‘Next Time On…’ trailers. We’d tease him immensely about this, of course. That’s what friends are for.
And then he became ill. Cancer. He moved back to his family, in and out of hospital. I was sure he’d pull through. He was young, he was strong, he had very deep faith and the thoughts and prayers of a network of family and friends. He was sometimes frustrated, sometimes angry, sometimes complaining that his illness kept him from his friends and hobbies. More often than not, though, he was taking it in his stride. He’d often joke that the treatments would eventually give him superpowers.
He didn’t need superpowers. He beat that cancer all by himself. That’s right, he beat it. After months and months of the treatment not working as quickly as we’d hoped, after all that time railing against the frustrating slowness of it all, the cancer went into remission. It looked as if he’d be all right at last. As all right as the circumstances would ever allow. We rejoiced.
And then he became ill again. A chest infection, one that proved sadly fatal. I suppose his body had used up all its strength fighting the arguably greater threat. It’s a very cruel twist, giving us such hope and then dashing it all in one sudden move. Karma and Luck were asleep that day, and Destiny was allowed to run riot.
I’m ashamed to say that, deeply saddened as I am at his passing, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to grieve. The day after I heard, I was back at work and worked 3 full days with little to no affect. I’ve comforted those who have found it hard to cope while seemingly managing to get by with ease. I’m laughing and joking as normal, feeling more and more guilty about it all the time. Someone will say something or I’ll see something that reminds me of him and then I’ll have a quiet moment of sadness, then it’s back to business as usual.
I wonder if I’m broken somehow, if my experiences in Palestine have deadened me to feelings like this. I was lucky there, I lost no friends or family members, but I know many who did. I came close to death myself, but that’s a story for another time, another more me-centric post.
I’m probably over-thinking this, as ever. I expect to be a complete and utter wreck on Friday, the day of his funeral. Maybe then I can finally stop feeling guilty and actually start to move on.
Until then, I will simply raise a glass to my friend Jamibu. Geek. Christian. Lover. Friend. He was a good man, robbed of a full and rewarding life. He made the most of what he was given, but he should have been given so much more. Another in the long series of constant reminders that life is not fair, not fair at all.
R.I.P. Jamibu. I hope you’ve gone to the better place that you so strongly believed in.