I have been having a bit of trouble getting hold of my friend. We live a couple of hundred miles apart, but have been friends for about 25 years (ouch – I just had to use all my fingers twice over to work that out) and, whilst we don’t see each other frequently, we have always kept in touch since I moved away 14 years ago.
It took me some weeks to finally get in touch with her. It was getting to the point where I hoped she was upset with me for some reason, rather than face the possibility that she may be avoiding me for some other, more sinister reason. Sadly, it turned out the be the latter. A malignant tumor in her throat. Floored.
This is not an old woman. She is in her 40s, and about to be married for the very first time. I can’t even get to her wedding, because I’m a bloody idiot and managed to book our family holiday so that we get back one day too late. I hadn’t forgiven myself for that error, and then this.
We have helped each other through our twenties and thirties; during her break-ups I gave her a home; she helped me through the pain of divorce. We are mates, pure and simple.
So, why didn’t she tell me?
She couldn’t. She couldn’t face it. Not with me, not even with her own Mum. She held it all closely to herself like a secret, with only her partner for support. It is only after weeks of intensive radiotherapy, the loss of 3 and a half stones, and my incessant nagging to get in touch that she finally caved and called me with the news.
I feel like I want to fetch out an embarrassing photo of us in the 1980s for you here, jumpsuit clad with big hair and plastic earrings, to show you all what a wonder she was and still is, but I’ve carefully considered her privacy and decided that those will remain tagged as ‘private’ in this particular Event.
It is moments like this which remind me why I had this dream – to create a repository for our memories, so that the people we are shall never be lost or forgotten, and so that we can tell our own ‘life’ stories in the order which they happened to us.
My dear friend is doing okay, in case you were wondering, and long may it continue . I shall celebrate her impact on my life with pictures and words.