6 years ago today I sat in a car park, listening to the sound of the rain bashing on the roof, taking in the words my best friend, my partner-in-crime, the sister-I-never-had said to me "It's confirmed; I have cancer". She'd just come out of the doctors after getting her results.
I remember the day not just because of that (I'm sure if I'm totally honest I'd have remembered it was around this time of year but not the exact date) but it was her Mum's birthday on the day she got told which made it all the more painful for her Mum had died just a few weeks before - Christmas Eve to be precise - so not only was she still grieving her Mum (her eldest daughter had also been rushed into hospital New Years Eve and found to have an incurable illness - it is, thankfully, one she live with) so to get the news on such a day was hard. Just 13 months later I was sitting in the same car park trying to bring myself to go into her home to say my "goodbyes" for she wasn't to be on this earth for much longer. The last words she ever spoke to me were that evening as I left. The next time I saw her (the following lunchtime) she was already dead.
I should have known before she died that life is short - my Dad was just 49, my boyfriend had been 26 - but nothing could prepare me for the loss of my best friend, confidante (on some things for she was bloody useless at keeping a secret). We'd laugh about being old women racing each other along the seafront on our zimmer frames, or embarrassing her grand kids when we broke into amazing renditions of Take That songs (in our minds we sound amazing :) ) Not once did it ever occur to us that one of us (or both - I've no idea yet where this thing called life is going to take me or when my death will come) would not be around for those races. We knew we'd never live forever but we certainly thought we'd get to be white haired old ladies drinking our cups of tea at the dining room table talking about the "good old days". Now, it's just me doing the talking (to anyone who will listen mostly). Her kids (the ones you all know as my niece and nephew -blood doesn't make family) love it when I fill them in on some of the crazy things their Mum used to get up to (I am still very careful about I share; just because she's not around doesn't mean she can't hear what I'm telling them - in fact I had a very odd moment happen just the other night). Her eldest has said at times she thinks some of her Mum's other friends only want to see her, or spend time with her, because she reminds them of her Mum. She loves that I go to see her because I want to see her. She's my number 1 - always has been, always will be. She doesn't remind me of her Mum at all and we rarely talk about her Mum because we have our own bond, we don't need to talk about her Mum, we need to talk about our lives as they are and her beautiful daughter. The younger 2 I will tell the stories too because they never got to see the side of their Mum that the eldest did; she changed a lot when she got with their Dad, but they also have stories to share and we'll talk about times when the 4 of us (or 5 if the eldest was about) would sit round that table discussing our days. We all had our own seat and we'd come and go, share stories, complain about things, make things, and often times the kids would be told off about something (as would me and their Mum by the other one if we'd done something stupid). That kitchen table could tell a few stories that's for sure. They all know if I could have them live with me I would; not to replace their Mum though, but so that we could make new memories around a table. I think they miss that as much as I do. Their Mum is gone, there isn't a thing we can do to bring her back - she cannot be replaced. She can be remembered of course, but sometimes you have to take a step back on the memory side of things too or it can become consuming to the point where you never make new memories and life is all about making memories. You can help me, help them, to make some new ones, happy ones, for right now their life is pretty shit; they need something to focus on, something to make them smile again, something to give them hope, let them see that not everything in the world is bad.
I'm seeing them both (the younger 2) Saturday night; I have no idea where we will go, what we will do or what will happen (that's the beauty of just being) but how amazing would it be if I could say to them that someone has heard about them, learnt a little something about their lives and because of that has given some money to help take them on the trip of a lifetime? That one act of kindness could make such a massive difference to their current lives, but more to their future ones. They are at an age when their behaviour towards others is susceptible; right now all they see is people being mean or cruel - you could help change that perception. You could help shape their futures. You could show them that anything is possible if they just believe and from that they could go on and do great, amazing and wonderful things with their lives. Not just for themselves but for others like that too!
Don't go worrying that once we've got the money to head off, that I'll be forgetting all about you. I would never do that, because without your kind donations then our trip would not be possible. While I may not post as often as I try at the moment I will still keep everything up to date on here to let you know how we are all getting on. I'll share photo's from the trip, let you read the diary that I keep. I'm like that annoying smell which keeps on coming back; once you've got me, you're stuck with me :) I'll even let you take part in the quiz I've written for every day we are away, as long as you promise not to cheat and try to answer as many questions as you can without looking them up on the internet :)