Funerals are just the worst. And that’s the understatement of the year. But funerals for those who are lost too soon are just so tragic. And today I watched one of my oldest and best friends say goodbye to her lovely dad and it just about broke my heart. I won’t go into details, that’s not my story to tell, but I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing with you that he was the kindest, most caring, family orientated man you could ever wish to meet and the world is a much sadder place without him.
But as I was sat there, admiring the strength and courage of my friend and her family, I looked around the room at all of the people who had taken the time to come and say their goodbyes and I felt so proud to be a part of it. It struck me that some of these people had been in my life for twenty five years and that regardless of how much time had passed between catch ups, or how our lives had panned out, we were all bound together by the invisible strings of friendship.
And there is probably nothing more comforting, especially at a time of need, than surrounding yourself by old friends. It’s like slipping on an old sweatshirt or a warm fleece blanket and remembering a time when everything was just so easy.
Old friends are the only ones who remember you as a geeky thirteen year old, with gangly legs, a corkscrew perm and before you discovered tweezers. They are the ones who you shared your innermost secrets with, your clothes, your bed, your bronzing pearls and your bottle of 20/20. The friends who got you through teenage break ups and pre-exam nerves, who held your hair and rubbed your back when you’d had one too many WKDs on a weekend. The ones who shared your first kiss, your first cigarette, your “first time”. They are the friends who you went wild with on your first taste of freedom to Magaluf, who dragged you home, kept you safe and always remembered to put you in the recovery position. The friends who knew every bad thing you’ve ever done but never held it against you, who watched you make the same mistakes time and time again but never said “I told you so”. They are the ones who you laughed with, cried with, plotted and schemed with. The ones who you swore would be your friends forever.
And like all friendships as you grow, they can lead down different paths. Weeks, months and even years can pass you by and before you know it you’re on a slippery slope to 40 with kids, husbands, careers, and time has slipped by so fast.
Gone are the teenage girls who drank Taboo straight from the mug, who sang “The greatest love of all” from start to finish at every given opportunity, who wore matching denim jackets and wrap around skirts. Gone are the girls who downed Woods 100 (officially the strongest and most revolting drink that our local pub stocked), who flashed our knickers in indecently short dresses, who cleaned up our grazes, removed glass from our feet and tucked us into bed with a pint of water. The girls who shared our hopes and dreams for the future and who never imagined a time when we would experience pain or loss.
But in their place are women – strong women – who have each suffered their own hard times and heartaches. We have grown together and we have grown apart but like all true friendships, when you really need them, they are always there.
And tonight, after a long and emotional day, when faced with the harsh reality that nothing lasts forever, it’s impossible not to become nostalgic. For although as we grow older we will inevitably lose someone we love, someone who loves us shall be holding our hand, propping us up and reminding us that true friendship lasts forever.