It was a privilege to know him.
It was quite impossible notto know of him. When you considered that he had a habit to stick his nose into just about everything, the odds were that if you walked any of the same paths, you would encounter him at some point or another. He was too loud, too ostentatious, to be unnoticeable.
You would often find him defending the downtrodden; that was the sole business of his life, his only solace seeing a case done right. It was an interesting way to live, but it was his calling. There's no one else that I have would rather have had by my side in a courtroom. He defended thousands of people over the years. Like I said, it was impossible not to know him.
Likewise, it was not hard to be Atticus' friend; he had a great many. That charming demeanour of his lead to an aptitude for making lasting bonds. One flash of that winning smile and you wanted to like him. Listen to a few lines of one of his infamous speeches and you wanted to follow him. See him with a steaming cup of black coffee tucked between his hands and you wanted to know him.
But that's the thing. Whilst it was almost impossible not to know of Atticus, it was also almost impossible to truly know him. Atticus was an infinitely layered person; to peel back all those layers to his soul was a mammoth task, one that took years to complete. Even then, it was difficult.
I have had many job titles throughout my life, but the one thing that I've always been is an artist. I've always held that I can tell the colour of a person's soul if you give me sufficient time. My Lisette's, for example, is a beautiful lavender. Or the quiet grey of my brother Samuel. It's easier to know the colour of their soul when they're close to you.
But Atticus was always going to be hard. Not only did he hide his soul, he hid it behind coats and coats of paint, each coat different from the last. On the outside, you'd see this bright orange all the time, but strip that back and you'd find a coat of brown. Under that, you'd get burnt yellow. And every time you'd strip back a coat you'd think, 'Surely, surely, this is the last one.' And it'd never be. Half of the time, by the time you'd pulled back ten layers, Atticus had painted over another five. And it just left you endlessly dazed, so much so that most people didn't stay the course.
But if you tried, if you really, really tried, you'd get to the very core. It took me nearly fifty years to find it for a fleeting hour; he wouldn't show it for any longer than that. But I swear to god, what I saw that day was quite incredible indeed.
You might think that for all his revolutionary fire, the true colour of Atticus' soul would be red. Or perhaps magenta, for that enthusiastic teacher that strived for a better world. He himself would have wanted his soul to be purple, I think; for the grandeur that he strived for in life. That's what I would have guessed, knowing him for as long as I did. But no. No, that's not what I saw.
The true colour of Atticus' soul was a tarnished silver. An artist will tell you what silver represents about the personality, but I don't think that what the colour represents was the defining thing there. I think the defining thing was that Atticus' soul was the same colour as the colour of our nation; our nation of judgement and justice, the very things that he dedicated his entire life to.
He'd been battered and bruised over the years and it showed. This was not a person who lived life quietly; this was a person who'd fought and fought until he could fight no more or until the battle was won. He gave his life to defending the people, something that was always out of my capability but came as second nature to him.
Don't get me wrong; Atticus was a half-decent student, irritating philosopher during the night hours, and more than a little eccentric, but by goodness, he was an honourable man who will be dearly missed. After all, who else is going to send us weird and mildly insane philosophical texts at 4 am now?
Atticus, both as a concept and as a person, was truly unknowable. But I think that's precisely why we all loved him so much. Although, I must add that if he were here right now, he'd want me to finish as soon as possible so he can move onto what lies beyond this world. Sorry, Atticus. I guess neither of us had the ability to be brief when it came down to it. But, unlike you, I do have the ability to stop talking.
Godspeed, Atticus. May you have just as much an inexplicable existence in the next life as you did in this one. Thank you.