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One year ago today, my best friend’s husband left a message on my phone whilst I was on a conference call in the office. He asked me to call back when I could get to somewhere quiet.

Emma had been seriously ill with cancer, suffered some horrid treatment, but had recently been in one of those cancer pauses where all is reasonably ok for a while. She was a very emotional person and hated the phone because she would often cry at the slightest thing which made conversations tricky. So, my fear was that she had received bad news about her prognosis and wanted me to know, but couldn’t quite articulate it herself. 

I took myself to one of the private study booths nearby. Sound-proofed but in full view due to the glass door and wall. There was a brief pre-amble about a hospital visit the previous weekend – then the awful finale – ‘she passed away on Tuesday’. I had seen her, in pretty good form, just four weeks earlier.

I can still hardly believe it. She was a year younger than me. We had known each other since we were in our late teens. We were chief-bridesmaid to each other. We were god-mother to each other’s eldest children. We had stayed in touch despite living 100+ miles apart. We had been closer again during her illness – contemplating how we would do some serious walking together in my planned early retirement and beyond, always conscious that we may have less time than we would like.

She was one of the most active and self-motivated people I know. She followed what seemed like a healthy outdoor lifestyle.

How can it be fair? 

I have missed her this past year and continue to grieve. I have shouted her name in anger on the cliffs alone in Cornwall. No doubt I’ll do it again somewhere.

Doesn’t help, does it?

I can’t seem to see the funny side of this.


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