A year ago today I was hungover. I’d spent the previous day meeting fans at an impromptu gathering and the evening drinking heavily with my YouTube chums. I woke up to a phone call…
Not many people can say they’ve had a “sobering experience” quite like me.
My close friend, business partner and - if I’m being honest - muse Edd Gould was dead. Cancer had made its final move on him the night before. While I partied, he fought for his life… and lost.
I didn’t get time to grieve. I didn’t give myself the time. After the phone slipped from my fingers and fell to the floor I let out a lone agonised scream and swallowed hard. I rose to my feet, dressed myself and got to work.
Two emails. One to our landlord and one to the company Edd had recklessly signed his YouTube channel away to. I wanted to leave that apartment and I wanted him to finally be free of that contract. With the business done I woke Paul and Sabrina, two of Edd’s friends who’d moved to England to be closer to him; filling his room until he was healthy enough to move in. I broke the news with a single stare.
Before long the apartment was brimming with life. Broken souls pressed together to keep each other from falling apart. Matt, Edd’s best friend, came seeking emotional refuge and found himself in ‘too-soon central’, a hub of comedians in a desperate rush to break the most inappropriate jokes we could muster. He fit right in.
When a celebrity dies, word travels fast. We needed time to give everyone Edd knew and cared about the right to hear the news first hand. Matt was tasked with contacting as many real-world friends as possible before we went public. I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been for him to check-off a list of people whose hearts needed breaking. I was responsible for the Internet. First, Edd’s online friends… Then his fans. All 400,000 of them. But for now they would have to wait.
As darkness came, the four of us boarded a train from Wimbledon to Warren Street. It was time to start saying goodbye. As the hospital drew closer, the jokes drew further apart. In near silence, we made our way to the morgue. Then Rory happened.
Rory was a nurse. He was a moron. The process of arranging the body viewing had not been easy to begin with. The phone call to the hospital earlier that day had taken its tole.
- Me: Hello I’d like to arrange a body viewing.
- Hospital: A what?
- Me: A body viewing.. of one of your deceased patients.
- Hospital: You want to visit a patient?
- Me: Yes.. A deceased one.
- Hospital: A what?
- Me: … A dead one.
- Hospital: Okay, what is the patients name?
- Me: Edward Gould.
- Hospital: What ward is he in?
- Me: Um.. The morgue?
- Hospital: What?
- Me: My friend has died and I want to see his body. I want to visit my deceased friend.
- Hospital: Hold please.
- Hospital: Hello, how can I help you?
- Me: … I’m trying to arrange a body viewing.
- Hospital: A what?
When we finally arrived at the hospital we were met by Rory. He was tasked with taking us to the basement to view the body of our friend who had passed away just hours ago. He said all the wrong things.
- “I saw Edd come in. He looked very ill and scared.”
- “Do you remember the last thing you said to him?”
- “I guess you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.”
Outside the viewing room, where comedy was no more, we sat and waited for Edd. When the time came to go in, we froze. I took the flip of a £2 coin to stop us from just turning back and going home. Rory, tactful as ever, encouraged us with “What would Edd have wanted? I think we would want you to go in.”
We slowly and softly dragged ourselves into the cold, sterile viewing room. Rounding the doorframe I first laid eyes on my worst nightmare. I focussed my energy on keeping my composure. For some reason I felt it would help everyone else for me to remain calm; as if emotional strength was a coat and I was holding on to theirs so they could begin to process the grief. I felt like I’d failed my friend by letting him die but maybe if I did everything in my power to help them it’d be okay.
Rory broke the silence and barged passed us, saddling up to Edd and violating not only our grief but also our friend. He began to stroke what little hair Edd had then leant in and whispered into his ear “I’ve brought your friends to see you, Edd.”
I snapped. “Get out.”, I rasped. “Get out now.” Another nurse from outside the door dashed in and finally removed Rory from our lives. He was not missed.
Like a bodyguard, I stood pensively at the back of the room until the gang had all said their goodbyes. It was only then that I mustered up the courage to make my way forward. Knowing I might break down if I attempted to speak a full sentence I kept my words to a minimum. “I’ll take good care of her.”, I said, and made my way to the door. Our show was my responsibility now. I couldn’t save him, but maybe I could save her.
As I sit here in bed, hungover from a night of drinking with my YouTube friends following a day spent meeting fans, I can safely say that it wasn’t just my friend who died that day. This marks the one year anniversary of a crippling writers block I’m yet to defeat and a sense of failure from which I don’t believe I’ll ever recover. A partnership like mine and Edd’s was designed to last a lifetime, for ten years we grew side by side into the men we were; defined by each other and dependent on each other. He was my friend, my partner and my muse.
I miss him so fucking much.