Losing a friend – 20 years on and sometimes it really feels like it was still just yesterday. On this day 20 years ago I can tell you exactly what the weather was like. There was no storm causing chaos, no wind, no rain. It was one of those bright sunny February days that makes you feel that Spring is about to show itself in all its vivid colours. I’ve spent 20 years wishing that that day had been cold, icy, frosty or just pouring with rain. Any conditions that would have made a motorbike ride before work seem like a less appealing idea.
But the weather was what it was and my ex’s best friend went out on his motorbike for a ride in the sunshine before his afternoon shift started at work. He never came home. His motorbike was in a collision with a car. He died shortly afterwards in the hospital from his injuries.
Our other good friend rang to tell us the news and it’s a moment that I will never forget. Everything stopped that afternoon. Nothing seemed real. The four of us were always together. We had been for years. We’d spent Millennium Eve at our house, stood out in the street watching the fireworks and planned adventures for the year ahead. This was not in the plan. Arranging music to be played at his funeral was not in the plan. Him not being here was not in the plan.
We drove out to the crash site within the next couple of days. There was still evidence of the crash on the side of the road. It was years before I could again, drive or be driven along the road where he’d had his accident. Even now it makes me uneasy to drive past where it happened. I still see the debris that has long since disappeared.
20 years on and a blogging friend posted a picture on social media of a souvenir from the Millennium Dome not long ago. For those ‘youngsters’ reading this, this is what we now know as the O2 arena. Her photo took me straight back to 2000. There was so much hype surrounding the Dome and our friend wanted us all to go and see it together. We’d bought tickets before he’d died and in May the rest of us carried out his wishes. We were there but our heads and hearts were somewhere else that day. The fact that the exhibition inside the dome was underwhelming didn’t really help the situation.
20 years on and I still think of all the things he’s missed. I wonder what he’d have said and done about so many different things. Would he ever have packed up and headed to Thailand for good? Would he have cut his ponytail off, would he be bald or going grey?
I can still hear his laugh, just about. We laughed so much and at times, we’d end up crying. He was a good person to be around.
20 years on and I still can’t pick up his camera that was left to me and get the film developed inside it. I know he’d want me to use it, but I’m still not ready to change that film and start again.
Whenever I hear Tainted Love, I stop for a moment and smile. So many times we danced to that song, so many times we sang the words, badly but together. At times I’d been the annoying partner to his best friend, but over the years we’d formed our own friendship and for that, I’m really grateful.
Losing a friend – 20 years on, the pain isn’t so intense but the sadness is still there. The regret of time missed, memories no longer shared, a life not lived to the full. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
So today I’ll take a moment or two to remember the good times before we received that telephone call. To remember a friend, to remember a time when we were all so much more carefree. I’ll take a moment to be thankful that I had known him and that I can always say that he had been my friend.