When you think about death too much, chances are after a while you believe that you’re dying. It’s not a bad thing at all, really, when at the end of the day you can shrug it off and know that you’re actually not dying. I know that because I have played in my head all kinds of crazy scenarios where I’d die, and always, dying is the easy part. It’s just giving up. The part where you realize what you are giving up, that’s the part that keeps me until today. It’s not just family and friends and works and achievement, though that is such a large and eye-blinding part. No, it’s about leaving everything behind even, or especially, things you haven’t known of. It’s the fear of everything and everyone moves on without yourself being a part of it. Really, it’s the things that we haven’t the chance to have that we regret the most.
With that in mind I watch the movie with an expectation. I waited for James to break down. Because if a movie showed death of a young person without depicting any kind of regret and bitterness, it’d be a boldface lie. But James breaking down had been handled better than I thought. Along the way, somehow I forgot my expectation. At some point I even thought, hell, I even hoped, Yeah they could end the movie like that, forget about the illness and death and regret, focus on the last trip, the first time after so many years and also the last time they’d get together, free and happy like four little boys on their adventure. It’s actually how people deal with things sometimes, ignore what’s to come and enjoy the moment. That’s what Miles wanted, probably what they all wanted. But it’s tougher than that. Because when we can run away from our problems and deal with them later, James wouldn’t have later. He’d only have: today, this week, this month. And the waiting part is always painful.
There, I’d say it: If I were James I’d do exactly the same things, all the things he did in the movie. That’s selfish, of course. And one would argue that after he’d died he would have been released forever where his friends were left haunted. The thing is, life moves on. Miles and Davy and Bill would be very sad for a very long time, and hell, maybe the wound would never heal for Miles. But they would move on. Even if they didn’t want to, life wouldn’t let them. They’d be pulled forward, and they’d start to forget. Memories in our brains are not stored in some places that we can retrieve. Every time we recall something it is created from scratch and there would be loss in the process, which means the things we think of the most are quicker to be damaged and become incorrect. Soon James’ voice and laughs would be forgotten. No one would remember the way he walked, or how he took his coffee, or the way he sat when he wrote… People would let go and change and develop and improve, where James would be stuck at 29 with a painful illness and everyone’s sympathy. What’s so unacceptable that he asked for a favor before he became nothing?
I actually loved the way James was bitter with all his friends during the trip and then near the end he confessed “I would take any one of your pointless consumer fucking lives.” That line broke my heart because of how true it was. Because James was actually jealous and worried and hurt. Because “I’m leaving early. And it all goes on without me.” Because sometimes people need to be reminded that living is such a privilege not anyone has. Because this life is so shitty and it lets us down all the time and we get our hearts broken so easily, but we still hold on to it so desperately.
It’s so very heart-warming how all the conflicts between them were solved so honestly, like Miles said, “I can say this shit, and come back in 5 minutes and say nothing. That’s the point!” That’s true friendship and caring and love. And I think that’s how James could ask them that final favor. Nothing had been said exclusively but they just knew that things would eventually be okay and James had realized how much he was loved and cared about. He knew he would be forgiven for asking such a thing.
The thing is, it’s Miles who did it. Of course it must be Miles because he and James shared much more than a mutual friendship. They shared a figure they had both aspired to be. They shared uncertainties and passions. And finally they shared the love for James’ sister. Somehow life managed to push them apart but they found each other again, and James trusted Miles enough to beg him to not leave him alone. Would Miles be dying inside after James’ death? Of course. But he would be reborn, knowing that his best friend trusted him until the last minute and be convinced that death wouldn’t make people vanished but they’d actually be dancing among the stars.
The only thing I couldn’t relate to the movie was the friendship. Because I myself don’t have friends like that whom I trust with all my life. It hurt me a bit for that, knowing that in my last minute I’d actually be dying alone. But I’m happy at least someone have it, true friendship that made their life a happy one and there is no tragedy in that.