I wish my best friend Linda hadn’t died of cancer when we were sixteen.
She had a cough that she couldn’t get rid of one winter, and her mum took her to the doctor when it still didn’t go away when spring came. Four months later, she was dead. Lung cancer which metastasised to her brain. Despite surgery and radiotherapy, she never really had a chance.
Sixteen bloody years old. Sixteen. It didn’t do much for any belief I may or may not have had in God at the time, I can tell you.
It’s over twenty five years now since Linda died, unbelievably, and she still pops into my head at least once every couple of weeks. Ridiculously, even this many years after the event, I am struggling to write this post without letting the tears in my eyes start falling.
We met at primary school, and were friends from the age of five. Even when I changed schools at 11, we still remained best friends and saw each other all the time. I still know her telephone number off by heart (and use it to phone her parents, who I keep in touch with and visit when I go back home), and I still have snapshots inside my head of the times we shared together, as clearly as if they happened yesterday. (One of my favourites is Linda throwing a roller skate at my brother, who was really annoying us one day! Do you remember that, Nick?)
We spent hours and hours riding round the village on our bikes, loved playing board games, went horse riding together, and latterly we spent a good deal of time talking about boys, as well. As young girls do, we had our fair share of disagreements as well. But we always got over them and put them behind us quickly.
Linda absolutely loved children, and I’m sure she would have ended up working with children in some way, and would have been a brilliant mum one day, had she lived long enough.
The number of years since Linda died always shocks me – ten years was a bad one, then sixteen years (she’d been dead as long as she’d been alive) wasn’t good. And as the years speed by, it won’t be long before it will be the anniversary when Linda will have been dead twice as long as she was alive.
But you know what? Whilst the real photos may fade as the years pass, the memories remain crystal clear inside my head. And there, Linda and I will remain best friends, frozen in time, forever. Sixteen again, and with all the possibilities life had to offer stretched out before us.
***Edited to add: I had a whole other photo and post planned for Tara’s Gallery this week, the subject of which is ‘Togetherness’. And then I realised that’s this post is essentially about togetherness. So this is my Gallery entry this week.***