I lost one of my best and closest friends today when Ulli Lommel passed away.
The news reached me less than an hour before I started class (I was teaching all day), so I had to suppress the impact of everything until I finished up, almost 7 hours later. Then it hit me. Hard.
As many probably do when someone passes, I thought of the final few times we spoke, which was last week, before he fell Ill. With some kind of macabre prescience, our last few messages now seem like a very succinct farewell. I told him that I would always be there; to listen, to help, just to be present. He told me those words brought a tearful smile to his face. I also mentioned the joy that I took when I thought of our adventures together. And there were many adventures.
Ulli and I met when I was recommended to him as a competent writer who could help with a screenplay that needed developed quickly. Several years later, there have been many scripts, pitches, TV show bibles and collaborations created with one another, and we travelled the world working on them. I’ve seen and experienced things on those travels, the likes of which may never happen to me again. But all of it paled in comparison to our friendship, which meant everything to me.
I know a lot of people, but have a small number of close friends. Ulli Lommel was part of that family. Like family, we drove each other crazy at times, but it never took more than a few minutes to resolve itself. We trusted each other, and took great joy in each other’s company. I’ll never forget his stories and charm (and that’s not just because I helped write the English version of his autobiography), and I can’t even begin to fathom the hole which has been left in my life by his passing.
Ulli was so present in my life that if I write ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ on my phone, ‘Ulli’ is the word that autocorrect suggests. ‘Was so present’….everything has become past tense now. That’s one of the hardest adjustments.
Ulli always said he wanted to live in Ireland. He got to visit once, earlier this year, and I’m happy that he was able to experience it.
Two nights ago, I dreamed of Ulli. We were travelling on a train and he had a bunch of old photographs in his lap, some of which were no bigger than a stamp. Something about that dream stayed with me for the remainder of the day. Now I know that it was him saying goodbye.
Tonight, as I stepped out into the frosty night, there was a low lying mist and a beaming full moon. Perfect Boogeyman weather.
I raised a glass to the sky and said my own goodbyes.
But I’ll say them again. Goodbye Ulli and thank you for everything you have taught, fought and done for me. I love you and I will miss you.