Because sometimes, truth and real life are stranger and harder than fiction.
So yesterday, I’m with an almost new friend, sorting out old photographs and i find some of you and the way you do, the way we all do, I explain who you are and how we don’t speak much any more, but that’s ok because the friendship is so old, so well established that we could start a conversation tomorrow and it would be as if we had only spoken yesterday.
And today, from out of no-where, your husband rings me and tells me that you are dead, some stupid domestic accident and I want to write something good, something that will actually help and know I probably can’t….
But this is for you Annie
You were my first grown up friend, before I was grown up, before I noticed that I was still a child.
You let me into your life, collected me up with all your waifs and strays, but with a touch so deft, so gentle that we never felt like the lost souls we were.
You knew everyone and everyone knew you, as you floated through the cathedral town, dog, huge bag and a muddle of floating scarves always with you.
You made homes in unlikely spaces, bad furniture wrapped in found fabrics and grandma knitted woolen squares.
On a Buddhist sponsored walk [ surely an oxymoron], you walked smiling and when I, hot grumpy teenager shoveled in a cheap ice cream, you shook your head and told me, gently, quietly, that I was eating whale fat and really shouldn’t.
I lost my virginity in your flat, your bedroom generously donated and afterwards, you put the kettle on, didn’t ask too many questions.
And later, you moved again to the country, but this time a farmers’ wife, made a garden, made babies, made a home, but I was relieved to see furniture still wrapped in carefully knitted woolen squares.
And later still, when I took my almost unending line of mad, bad and sometimes nice boyfriends to meet you, you were always kind, always welcoming, although I suspect that you breathed a sigh of relief when some, all of them fell by the wayside.
I sat in your kitchen with my new baby and you talked about field archaeology and women in the middle ages and glowed with energy.
Much later, you showed my pictures of woodhenge, images of you and dread-locked archaeologists, you a middle aged farmers’ wife, but entranced by the notion of ancient peoples’ dancing on the beach.
You nurtured your friendships, kept in contact, sent me Christmas cards, when I, neglectful, forgot to return the thought.
You got involved, mental health, rural homelessness, you didn’t have to, but you did.
And when things fell apart and you could have railed against the unfairness of life, you didn’t, at least not to me,just said it might be hard to put guests up.
You made the world a better place, you helped to make me the person I am now.
Thank you, doesn’t seem enough, but thank you Annie.