I am at Kathy's today. I have come to stay overnight and the plan is to go for a long walk out in the wonderful countryside that surrounds Sheffield. Later we go to her friend's for dinner and get back some time after eleven. We sit in the living room nursing a last glass of wine. In the alcove there are now some built in shelves holding videos and and other odds and ends. I remember Kathy telling me that Hugh was to build shelves in both alcoves for her during his time off in August.
"He did those the week before he died," says Kathy and attempts to joke, "I'm quite annoyed that he didn't finish them. We still need some in the other alcove."
It must be all the harder for Kathy, I think. Hugh had been spending a lot of his time off at her house since the break-up and had done quite a few DIY jobs. Reminders of his presence are everywhere. Out in the garden are the raised vegetable and flower beds he had built only a few months ago and, perhaps more poignant, his cigarette butts are still in evidence, scattered around the path.
I look around and everywhere are memories of last Christmas when Keith and I spent a few days there too. Outside and across the road is the park and the surrounding streets where he and I walked early on Boxing Day, before the others were up. I was pleased with myself at being able to keep up with an 'army-fit' young man half my age with only a brief 5 second pause to get my breath as we strode up the steepest road.
Little did I think that this would be the last Christmas we would have with him, but at least I have the memory of a happy few days and that will always stay with me.