I woke up yesterday morning quite early, sadly (in terms of future earning potential as a police psychic) not due to any eerie premonition of doom or ominous foreboding, but simply because I have such incredibly bad hay fever that even breathing through my mouth was beginning to require an oxygen mask. STAT (always wanted to say that).
Then my breath really was taken away by the news that one of my favourite authors in the world, the galaxy, the universe - had died. Yes, he was 87, and had been suffering from cancer for a long time - but so what? I think that for many people, the expectation was that somehow, Gabriel García Márquez, or as he was known to his many, many friends, 'Gabo' - would simply always be there, arguing passionately, writing his stories of magical realism, infusing the world with passion, and love, and fire.
The first book of his I read was Love In The Time of Cholera, as a very precocious 11 year old. Of course it was far too old for me, but even then, although I didn't recognise much of what the book was about, I saw what Márquez wanted to say. I understood his language. I loved the inner fire of Fermina Daza. I saw the dedication to true love - any true love - of Florentino Ariza. And strangely, I felt the most empathy for the third person in that strange little triangle - Dr Juvenal Urbino del Calle.
Maybe even then I saw that sometimes the desire of one's heart may not desire you in the same way - and also that you may not realise exactly what you yourself desire until it is too late.
One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The General In His Labyrinth.
No-one Writes To The Colonel.
Of Love And Other Demons.
All novels I devoured, and re-read and re-read again - because there was always something new.
Gabo was a friend to Castro. He was a Nobel Laureate. He was an outspoken critic of the corruption of the Colombian government - a dangerous thing to be, especially in one's own country. He was, in many ways, a modern day Simón Bolívar, with a pen instead of a sword. His books contained a source of magic and his language a lyricism which it is impossible to reproduce.
It is strange to love novels which have at their heart a profound sense of the loneliness of life - and in many ways, of disappointment. But this is the way of true life, and it was the way of Márquez's own life. He drew from what he knew.
But clearly, he also knew the human heart's best side. For who but Gabo could write a phrase like this:
It's enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.
And so it is. It is enough.
For which I am eternally grateful.