Have you friends who were a huge part of your life until life separated you? I have a number of such friends who I have not seen in many years, but who I wonder about occasionally and they still make me smile, as I remember happy days of childhood in their company.
One such a friend was a huge part of my life. We met our first day nursing, and within the week were as thick as thieves. She and I were said to look alike when in our uniforms, and shared the same sense of humour and fun.
I have so many wonderful memories of those days with her a central part of them.
There was the time I went to visit her at her flat. On my arrival I could hear her on the phone in the hall of the flat above. Noting she had left her window open, delighting in my own fun, I climbed in and waited in the bathroom for her to come back. When I knew she had I began to make a little bit of noise every now and then, dropping something or scraping at the door. I imagined her fear rising and with my twisted humour could barely contain myself. Eventually I knew she was outside the bathroom door, listening. Without warning I jumped out and scared the living daylights out of her.
Or the time when we were in nursing ‘school’. She was a very attentive student who wrote copious notes. I was most definitely not a note taker and this particular day I will admit I was not in the most interested mood. We were listening to a rather boring lecture on social work with a lot of repetition within it. I felt it was more important to fill my buddy in on the events of the night before. The biggest difference between my friend and I is that years of ‘messing’ in class had taught me to chat and listen at the same time, a skill my pal lacked. Suddenly the lecturer stood in front of us and tapped our desk.
“Well, can you give me an example?”
She was staring at my now beetroot faced friend. I, with my talent for being able to do two things at once, knew that she had been speaking of the lack of aids for the disabled in the community, such as more parking places etc. I whispered to my friend, “Tell her there are no telephones for the deaf”. My friend did not process what I had said, so looking directly at the lecturer she said, “Well for example there is a serious lack of telephones for the deaf”.
As soon as she said it, and heard the laughter around her, she knew she had been set up. As she was asked to leave the lecture she glared at me. I returned a most innocent look in her direction.
Our years together were full of fun, both on and off the wards. However she was also a part of my life when it was at it’s most difficult. My father was sick. We knew he was very unwell but had no diagnosis. She was there for me in those early days when my mum and I were told Dad had motor neurone disease. She was a tower of strength as I struggled to come to terms with the knowledge my dad would die a difficult death and she was there two years later, when that day arrived.
The shock and upset was enormous. I sat at home surrounded by family, trying to grasp the fact dad was gone. The doorbell rang and there she stood. We embraced and I held her not wanting to ever let her go. I’ve never forgotten that day, or her kindness in the following months. We were only weeks away from our finals. She encouraged me to go to her place to study. How she put up with me I don’t know, for I was in no mood to study. We were joined by another friend who had also lost her father suddenly, weeks before I lost mine. My good friend was forced to share her precious study time with two grieving friends who spent the time reminiscing, raging and roaring. She never complained and continued to encourage us to come and study.
Happily we all passed our finals. I remember having a moment during one of the exams, where tears flowed. I heard a tapping sound and when I looked over there was no wondering what she was trying to tell me, “Stop that nonsense and get on with it”
After we qualified we worked together for another year before both of us decided to travel, she to the US and I to Australia. I returned, she did not, having met the love of her life. She did however return to share my wedding day with me, as my only bridesmaid, and over the years we have maintained contact, but distance has meant we rarely meet.
Sadly last week my friends lovely, dapper, fun, gentleman of a dad, Joe, passed away. I travelled to offer her my sympathies, just as she had done for me twenty eight years ago. Walking into her kitchen the years fell away as we hugged, she and I, supporting each other as if we were together every day.
There are no words I can write my dear friend to lessen your sadness or take your pain away. Your lovely dad will be sorely missed by you all, and so many others. I have no doubt he is immensely proud of you, and possibly boasting about his gorgeous daughters and fine son where ever he is. I have little doubt he will always be there for you, and how could we ever imagine he would leave his soulmate of over fifty years?
I too look at you, and am so proud to number myself among your many friends.
Take care my dear friend, and never forget what ever the distance between us, I am never far away.
Thinking of you.