Seymour’s birthday comes round again. He’d be seventy-two today. I wonder what sort of adult he might have turned into if mental illness hadn’t ravaged and ultimately destroyed him almost thirty years ago. He was always going to be rather eccentric. He might have never fully grown up, never shed his fascination for the world around him, always being driven by his creative urges and impulses, always engaging with the world in his own idiosyncratic way, oblivious of his day-to-day needs. He’d know no other way to live. A strong, devoted, somewhat self-sacrificing family member or partner would need to constantly be on hand to look after, encourage and control him. A big ask for anyone, but there are people in this world with the strength, generated by love, to take on such a task. I am sure he would have become a great artist. In his youth he displayed sufficient promise. He used paints to capture the essence of things. I recall darkness, urgency, anger, tranquillity, splendour all emerging from his brushstrokes. And without a lot of effort. A good teacher would have helped him to further develop that uncanny ability. As he grew older, as life experience mingled with his senses to find expression on his canvases, he’d have produced sensational paintings.

Another thing: he would never have stopped playing the piano. He loved music too much for that, especially the music of Chopin. In music, like art, he possessed the ability to let himself loose, lose himself. Playing the piano was a foothold on sanity. It is when the music completely died that he disappeared into the darkness.

In my family, he’d have been a source of much admiration and also merriment. My sisters’ children and grandchildren would have adored him. Like most in my family, he loved cats with unbridled passion. He had a clownish sense of humour, poking fun at himself and others with equal relish. His presence throughout our lives would be a constant inspiration. All of us are creative and talented, and the way he lived his life would urge us to let ourselves go too, give in to our inner impulses and drives and see where they take us.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. My beliefs, such as they are, do not subscribe to such eventualities. But, fanciful though it might be, I hold onto the hope I’ll bump into him after I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. It’ll be such a pleasure.

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