So after two weeks of lush loveliness, and my brain finally reaching a semi catatonic state, I was mentally gearing myself on Sunday afternoon up to head back through the office doors bright and breezy on Monday morning.
At about five I got a call to let me know that a girlfriend of mine – Claire – had passed away that day. All peaceful, a grin on her face, and her family around her. And yes it was expected as she had been diagnosed with bowel cancer late last year.
Despite the *expectation* you never really prepare for these things. You simply can’t predict how you will respond or react. And for the record I’m feeling a little numb.
Claire was unique. I’ve known her for about ten or so years. I’d originally met her through some friends from when I used to live in Berkshire. She was one of *the* crowd to hang out with, was an absolute hoot and knew how to have a very, very good time. She was a little older than me, therefore much to my chagrin I simply HAD to listen when she gave it the “Well in my experience…” line, and needless to say those additional years of wisdom also meant that she really didn’t truck much rubbish. In affairs of the heart she was one of the most straight forward people I’ve ever met – there wasn’t much grey with Claire – it was either black or white. Natch.
She’d been through the emotional wringer a few times, but always managed to come out smiling, and had in later life settled into a groove with her man, her family and her friends. We’d been on holiday to Portugal together a couple of times – me, Claire and a gaggle of girls all together raising merry hell – and she’d become a firm favourite in my book.
I haven’t actually seen her since she was diagnosed last year, however I’d written to her a couple of times. Letters full of the usual Mel nonsense – jam packed full of never to be repeated details of the highs and lows of my personal life – all written in such a way as to give her a jolly good laugh at my expense. She always liked a good laugh at my expense. As do most people.
It goes without saying that I really regret not having seen her during recent months, however I know that there weren’t any things that had been left unsaid between the pair of us. Over the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about some of the stupid / daft / random chats that we had during the course of our friendship; they’d always be somewhere hot (we both love, love, loved being in the sun) and you could pretty much guarantee they would be under the influence of a few beers. Always makes the chat that much more random I find. And hilarious. If not exactly well ermm memorable.
However we also had some pretty pivotal conversations – ones that I do remember totally verbatim – like they were yesterday. Sometimes she just seemed to know exactly what to say, and more importantly when and how to say it. It was from Claire that I picked up my habitual (over) use of the word “acceptable”…. She taught me that it was ok to stand up for myself and let people know when things werent acceptable. And for that I thank her from the bottom of my heart.