Duncan was born with a rare condition.
His kidneys were underdeveloped and didn't grow as he did. This meant that by the time he was 19, he was terminally ill. His tiny kidneys couldn't process the toxins in his grown mans body and were failing on a chronic scale. He lost an incredible amount of weight, being unable to eat or drink anything without throwing up, he could barely stand and his skin was like paper.
When he walked into the A&E department, it was unanimously agreed that he should already be dead ... let alone standing and admitting himself to hospital.
What followed were long, gruelling years of tests, dialysis 3 times a week and waiting ... he was on the transplant list but as anyone who has suffered through this will tell you ... there are never any guarantees. You simply have to wait.
At long last, when Dunc was about 23, a new kidney was found and he had the operation. From here, it was daily anti-rejection tablets, limited foods and very little alcohol ... but it was life and Dunc was saved.
When I met Dunc, we were hanging out with same group of friends. He had already had his transplant a couple of years before and seemed to be doing well. He had a rescue dog called Sofie who was completely nuts. She would freak out at aeroplanes, men in uniform and beards but she adored Dunc and he loved her dearly.
He was sweet, funny and kind and totally chilled about pretty much everything. He smoked a little weed, drank a little and enjoyed cigarettes. I liked him immediately.
We got together just after I had split up with a friend of his ... I was insecure and needy. I couldn't be alone and wasn't able to accept or express myself in any kind of healthy way. So, I bounced around from relationship to relationship, always searching for someone to give me permission to be me. Always looking for outside affirmation and never finding it.
It wasn't until much later I realised that the only one who was able to give me what I needed was me.
Dunc came with me when I went to University, he moved his life to the south of England to be with me. I wanted to travel and he decided to come with me. So, we went travelling around Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for 3 months. It was a fascinating process of getting permission from the embassy of each country, as we had to bring in so much medication and letters with our passports. We only ever needed these once, when we crossed the border into Singapore, the customs officer poking at our huge bag of pills with suspicion before waving us through.
Dunc had never really been away from England before and he came into his own when we were travelling. He gained a new vibration and laughed, danced and cracked jokes. He experienced everything and even when things got stressful he would simply lie back, pull his cap down over his eyes and go to sleep. He was a great travel companion; laid back and easy going.
We explored the jungles of Malaysia, the volcanos of Java and the districts of Singapore. We climbed and hiked and sat under bamboo shelters, watching fat fish in ponds, whilst the tropical thunderstorms hammered overhead. We got ripped off and rode on scooters through the streets of Jakarta together. We drank coconuts, lay on white beaches and took speedboats to heavenly islands. We made friends, laughed, swam in the sea whilst thunderstorms raged and had adventures. It was, quite honestly, one of the most wonderful trips I have ever been on.
When we returned to England, the magic wore off. I was strict and unyielding and wanted to change him into a responsible adult. I made mistakes and yelled at him. He made mistakes and yelled at me. His laid back attitude irritated me to the point of distraction and I went through the uncomfortable sensation of feeling like his mother. I wanted him to be passionate about something and saw his 'everything's ok with me' demeanour to be him shunning his adult life.
What I didn't realise at the time was that he probably knew that his time was limited. I think he simply wanted to relax and enjoy the simple things because he knew what it felt like to be at death's door.
We broke up amicably enough. I even helped him to move his things into a new flat. We carried on texting each other and saw each other every now and again.
He started telling me that he still loved me. I didn't know how to deal with it and told him to grow up. He called me a bitch and never spoke to me again. That was the last time we had any contact and it haunts me to this day. The last thing he ever thought about me was that I was a bitch ... and he was right.
I wish I had done better. I wish I had been able to express myself better. I wish I had been less demanding and more empathetic. I wish I hadn't been so cold.
Dunc died in 2012. He was 35. I don't know the details, I only know that he was admitted to hospital and died quickly afterwards.
I cried for him. I hoped that he hadn't died in pain and I mourned that we had parted ways with such harsh words.
I'm so grateful that Dunc was in my life. I'm so grateful that we had fun and laughed together. I'm so grateful that I was the one he chose to spend these years with. That I saw him laughing in the sea and tearing open his first coconut with a look of childlike glee on his face. That we shared the stress, sickness and incredible joys of travel together and that, in the end, we created memories together.
I still dream about him sometimes. Once he even told me that he was at peace.
I don't know if I'm wishful dreaming or what but these visits never make me feel bad and I'm never afraid ...
If I have learned anything from Dunc's death its that you never know when you will loose someone. You could have a fight and simply take it for granted that you'll see them again and make it up.
I will never allow my husband and I to go to sleep angry and I will make sure that we never, ever part from each other ... even just to go to the shop ... with harsh words or thoughts.
Thanks Dunc ... for all our mistakes together and for all the great times! You taught me a lot!
Love, as always,