Echoes

This week has seen holiday preparations and health scares. I am ok. Waiting results and determined to go on holiday and enjoy myself.

Today in 2001, my best friend died. I would not get the call until the next morning and right now 16 years ago, she was still alive, she would not die until late that night. I remember that moment when the call came, seeing her sister’s name flash on the display, 2 weeks before the sister’s wedding, 1 week before the hen do we had silently planned. I had spoken to her less than 24 hours before, telling her how much I hated the TV industry I was part of, how much I hated being in Cannes. She sent me a text before she got in the car. “Next week we will be partying, it will all be fine.”

Only it wasn’t. The call came early in the morning, woke me and as I saw the name, I immediately knew something bad had happened. I picked up the phone and the words hit me with such force. I howled and screamed and my friend who I was sharing the appartment with during the TV festival came rushing in and held me, just held me, while I sobbed and sobbed. He then re-booked my flight, called a friend of mine back home to meet me at the airport, took me to the airport in Nice, delivered me as far as he could. The pre-flight time was awful, so many people I knew at that airport, none I wanted to talk to. I knew the sunglasses could not hide my swollen face and the tears were still running freely.

The next few weeks were awful. Some “highlights” etched in my soul forever. Arranging funeral music. Funeral. So many friends gathered, crying. One of my oldest friends nearly passing out with grief.

We became friends on the S-Bahn. We went to school in the same town, shared friends and kinda knew each other. And one day, we sat opposite each other on the same train into the main city close by. Turned out, we both liked escaping our small provincial town for a bit. We were both from outlying villages and as teenagers, all we wanted was to be in the city. The train journey took half an hour, when we emerged from the train we were best friends. Or as she put: I decided that I liked you and wanted to be your friend but knew I would have to convince you first to be mine, too.

She knew me better than anyone. She knew all of it, too. We were as different as two people can be. She liked Disney films, make-up, shrill clothes, musicals, listened to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston on end. I liked books, The Smiths and The Cure, dark clothing. It did not matter, turns out that these superficial things don’t count for anything.

I once read that when someone close to you dies that a part of you dies with them. I never understood what that meant until it happened to me. She is no longer there to fill in the parts of the stories that I cannot remember, she is no longer there to remind me of the stupid things I did, tell me off when I give up on myself, cheerlead me on when I need it. There is no silent conversation. No dissolving into laughter because you look at something and it reminds you of something else and you both know it and it is so funny to the two of you that you just laugh until you cry. No voicemails that are delivered in sung form, mainly songs from Disney movies. No text messages. No more shared pizzas. No more calls in the middle of the night: I am stranded here, please rescue me. No more me calling her: I cannot cope with life right now.

I still know her phone number of by heart. So many times over the last 16 years have I wanted to call her. How she would have loved my daughter. How she would have been dismayed that my kid is not a Disney Princess kind of girl. She would have adapted though and learned how to play Minecraft. Every new Disney movie that comes out breaks my heart a little because she will never see it. When Whitney Houston died I was glad she did not get to see this because the downfall and decay of her hero, it would have broken her heart.

I know what she would say reading this post. “Ok, that’s enough wallowing now, I get it you miss me, I miss you too, but this is what it is. Put the coffee on and I will be there with you in spirit.” She really loved coffee. So do I.

Miss you my friend, you of generous spirit, joyful soul, thinker of deep thoughts, that no one thought you had, adventurous spirit and believer in possibilities.

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