“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together” – Woodrow Wilson
It’s so easy to treat life carelessly – to let day after day slip away, to fail to wake up and smell the roses, to take unnecessary risks, to drive a little to fast, to fail to take care of ourselves and our wellbeing.
It’s easy to let days, weeks, months, even years go by without nurturing precious friendships, without even making sure the people we care about know how much we care about them.
This year I have met new people and forged some truly wonderful friendships, people who I care about deeply, confidants whose presence in my life is immesurably valuable to me.
I fear I have also neglected some older friendships, where geography, family pressures and I’m ashamed to say, apathy have meant that we haven’t spent as much time together or even kept in touch as much as either of us would have liked.
I picked up an email this morning from a school friend, someone I’ve known since I was at infant school. Her email made my heart run cold as it said she had bad news to impart about a mutual friend, and asked me to call her. I knew her well enough to know that she’d only do this if it was serious, and about someone dear to me. A fleeting thought of a mutual friend came to mind, but I brushed it aside.
I called and found out my hunch had been correct, that same very good friend had died suddenly and unexpectedly. We talked, we reminisced a little, we both thought of what she meant to us.
To the world at large, she was a hard-working successful lawyer, a mother of two young children, a loving daughter and sister and a caring friend. But here are a few of my own personal memories:
- the day she started at my senior school, tall and gawky with lots of blond hair, the way she carried herself suggesting a confidence she told me shortly after she didn’t feel
- her sheepishly asking to borrow my school notes so she could catch up on the syllabus then soon finding out she was well ahead of anyone at our school
- the first day I visited her house, and met her mother and younger sister, then many similar days afterwards which all blend in to one as we did our homework together while we giggled and talked about 101 things at the same time
- so many hours of girly gossip mixed with off the cuff discussions about religion, science and politics
- her practical approach to solving almost any problem
- opting to play each other at tennis during games lessons week after week in the summer as neither of us was terribly sporty but we were pretty evenly matched
- her gift with languages – including the fact that she did an O’level in Russian ‘for fun’
- the fact that when we got to the sixth form, she almost always wore high heels and towered over the boys at school as she was almost 6 feet tall
- a picnic in Hyde Park a few years later when she transfixed all the males present in a short summer dress (with more of the high heels) and no one could keep their eyes off her
- the last time we met up for lunch, a little while ago, when we talked about anything and nothing and it was as though we’d only seen each other the day before.
There are many more, of course, and those are quite random.
So please remember:
“Do not save your loving speeches
For your friends till they are dead;
Do not write them on their tombstones,
Speak them rather now instead.
– Anna Cummins