Today’s #maydays prompt an enemy that becomes a friend (or vice versa for that matter). Capture that transformation.
All through my teenage years Jason and I had a rivalry we both acknowledged as unhealthy at times. We didn’t live near one another but on opposite ends of the district.
We were both squash players and most times when we played he won. His was a squash playing family and he had the advantage of coaching from his dad who had been a pretty fair player in his time.
When the district championship came around I knew that if I played well I would meet Jason in the final. When two sixteen year olds meet there is a lot at stake.
I knew I was in for a great game and I was determined to be competitive and at least give him a good game so if he won he’d knew he worked for it.
But this day everything was different. Every shot I played went where I intended it, every winner was a winner and before I knew it I had defeated him and won the championship trophy that year.
Jason was a sore loser and chucked a right royal tantrum after the game and any overture on my behalf was shrugged off by him.
This was how it was into our twenties when we met for the last time. I was not as fit by then as I’d been at sixteen, life had introduced too many distractions, one in particular Sally Jenkins whom I was head over heels in love with.
So this year the final saw us meet again. Jason and I had grown in tall strong men and our skill level was pretty high what with all the experience we had gained over the years.
But this year he powered over me. I didn’t get a look in and the game was quickly over.
We shook hands; he was very pleased with himself. After when we were in the showers I said to him that tonight was the last time I would be playing as my life was taking a new turn and I wanted to do something other than play squash.
He didn’t say anything at first but nodded as if saying I heard you.
Then as he was dressed he said he wasn’t playing anymore either. He had been diagnosed with cancer that week.
We sat in the change room, just the two of us for a long time and Jason cried as he told me of the battle he was about to face. His whole life had been turned upside down and he didn’t know what to do.
I said I would stay in touch and I did. From out of that fierce rivalry we had as kids developed a friendship that we both grew to treasure. I would visit him every time I came home and over time it became apparent that his battle would be lost.
It was Sally who urged me to visit him that last time. He looked terrible when I came into his room. He was so pleased to see me and we did what we always did, sat and talked, confided and guided.
He said to me that he was pleased we became friends that we spend so much time as kids competing against each other who would have thought we’d end up liking each other.
Jason held my hand as we talked, he’d taken to doing that the last few times I had visited him, like it was his way of hanging on to life and us.
Time never mattered when I visited Jason we just sat and talked until he usually fell asleep. This day he did once again but as I looked down on him, his hand relaxing in mine I knew he gone this time, there would be no more chats just a heap of wonderful memories.