Yesterday, I changed my profile picture on Facebook to one of me at my book launch. I look happy and proud. And on one level I am. This book is an achievement. The launch was a dream come true. And yet I’ve been unable to write about it until now.
Each time I’ve been asked about my launch and how it went, I immediately start talking about something else that happened that week. Something that was so traumatizing and painful it completely overshadowed my launch and made it feel insignificant. Conversations went like this:
- How was your book launch?
- Yeah, it was ok, but that same week we buried my son’s best friend, Faye and that overshadowed everything. She was only 29. She was killed in Nigeria by a random shooting. It shouldn’t have happened. She shouldn’t have been in that place at that time, but she was and now she’s gone and we buried her that week of my launch.
- Ok, sorry to hear that. Bye.
Faye was an enormous part of our lives, had been since she was a teenager. She was my son’s twin. They did nothing without consulting each other. No matter where each of them was in the world they were together. No matter what they had to do they discussed it and planned it together. When they were younger, at any given time I could arrive home from work and find Faye sitting on the sofa or traipsing up or down stairs. Faye was part of our lives because she was part of Simon’s life.
But I also have my own memories of her. My favourite mug. I bought it when I was with her in London. We were walking through the rain to go and meet Simon and I saw this mug in the window. ‘Hippyshit’. I had to get it and we went in and laughed at all the tasteless tat in the shop. My favourite necklace that I rarely take off, Faye bought for me in Kurdistan for my birthday. Discussing my novel with her in the kitchen in Manchester while I was doing my PhD and her giving sound advice and strong opinions of what women represent and how they should be represented. Faye in the camp for internally displaced people in Soran where she taught English and we played with the younger children.
Faye in a terrible leopard print fur coat, channeling Bet Lynch from Coronation Street at a Thanksgiving dinner in D2, our accommodation in Kurdistan. Faye covered in mud when I went to pick them up from a Global Gathering Festival. Faye sitting on the doorstep smoking a roll up at 6:00 am chatting at a million miles an hour because she was too wired to sleep. Faye telling me a family secret and me getting all excited because it would make a great story, and Faye laughing while Simon was disgusted that I could even consider it because that was Faye’s real life. Faye kneeling down on the floor in our office in Kurdistan marking exam papers. Standing up when I introduced her to a colleague and giving the most disgusted look and ‘ugh’ sound when he refused to shake her hand because of his religion.
Faye Skyping me from Kosovo when she was being made Head of the English department and us laughing at the kitsch little house she was living in that was reminiscent of old ladies and even older cats. Faye in a Kurdish dress made from bright pink material we found in the bazaar. We’re out on a picnic for Newroz, with Sarwa’s family, eating dolma, and dancing. She sits on a rock, regal, while Simon sits lower down and we call them the Kurdish Posh & Becks. The last message on Facebook when Faye said she’d pre-ordered my novel and I answered ‘Love you, Moonfayce.’
Faye was killed on Good Friday, 19 April 2019 and life can never be the same again. Grief is relentless. But what I do know is that in her last five years Faye lived her best life. There is no doubt that there should have been more living, more bests, more memories, more of Faye. We should have had time for her to dissect my book and give me her bluntly honest feedback, for her to come and sit on my patio in Trinidad and drink rum, for her to come and experience carnival and play pretty mas, because she definitely would have done that.
My book launch was amazing and that was the week we buried Faye Mooney.