But friends – that’s a different thing. Real friends.
I saw a card the other day that said ‘It takes a long time to grow an old friend.’ And that was something that caught me on the raw and held. Because for 33 years of my life I have had a truly special ‘old friend.’
We met when our boys were at playgroup. We shared being mothers, adjusting to being at home after having a working life. Then we shared readjusting to a working life after our sons went to school. We shared the ‘empty nest ‘ feeling when they went to university. She knew about my attempts to write romance when no one else apart from my husband and sister did. She read my very first attempt at creating a novel. And she was there to celebrate with my when the first ever book was accepted and then published. She was there for the 50th celebration too. When that book she'd read was rewritten and accepted later, I dedicated it to her. We shared so many celebrations,birthdays, anniversaries, happiness, sadness, silliness, just ordinary days, dog walks, cats, meals, coffees – endless coffees when we talked and talked – we never ran out of things to say. There was never a silence between us.
Until now. The cliché is that this weekend I ‘lost’ her. I didn’t lose her. That implies a carelessness, a moment of inattention. That never happened. Never could have happened. I could never be careless or even casual about such a friend. But sadly (what an inadequate word!) she is no longer in my life.
Almost exactly to the day that she walked into my world all those years ago, now that vile disease cancer has taken her out of it. And I hate the huge hole she has left behind.
I still have friends – friends I value so very much - but I no longer have her. As someone said yesterday, with true understanding, I now live in a world that’s shifted on its axis and will in some ways always remain off kilter. She was quite simply irreplaceable.
My true friends will know how valuable they are to me – and thankfully she knew that too before she died. I’m not going to feel like chattering on social media for a while – but I’m sure you’ll understand. I’d love it if everyone could make sure that the real friends in their lives know how you feel about them. Friends matter so much. Let your friends know that.