Today marks the second anniversary of the death of my friend Simon Turner.
I met Simon several times in the psychiatric ward of the Royal Hobart Hospital about six years ago and we became friends.
Simon has been one of the nicest and most thoughtful people I have ever met in my life. He was gentle, intelligent, wise, kind and interesting.
He was also a very sincere Catholic and we had many thought provoking theological discussions. These were often challenging but never disagreeable. Simon had the unique gift of being loving in disagreements.
Like me Simon suffered from a combination of depression and schizophrenia. He said, several times, that he wanted to die. He would not, however, due to his spiritual beliefs, commit suicide. He told me that he wanted God to take his life so he could be with Jesus.
There is no doubt in my mind that Simon went to be with Jesus. He is now, no doubt, happier than he ever was on earth. But for me, and for many of his friends and family, his life was a tragic loss. '
I don't think Simon ever realised how important he was to so many people. People loved him and, even now, I miss him. I miss his little quirks like asking my cat for her opinion when he thought I'd made a bad decision, finding out where the idea of purgatory came from (it's in the apocrapha) and, most of all, his willingness to drop everything to help out a friend.
I was devastated by Simon's death and even now there is a 'Simon shaped hole' in me. Luckily I told Simon how much he meant to me before he died. This is important as many others didn't and were, therefore, guilty.
If you know someone wonderful let them know - they could die tomorrow.
Lastly I will end with the following Bible quote from Philippians. The Apostle Paul (who wrote it) wasn't mentally ill but the desire for eternal bliss echoes clearly the way Simon spoke about death and the afterlife.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain...I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." Philippians 1:21, 23-4.
God Bless you all