A childhood friend isn’t just a friend. They are the very foundation of your life. The firm roots from which everything else has grown. The tent to this crazy circus. Always in the background, unfaltering in the messy swirl of life.
I met Lizzie on my first day at school. We were eight. She had a bright ginger bob and a smattering of freckles. Our new school was fairly hoity-toity and when the teacher told the class that jewellery was strictly forbidden we looked down at our rings and smiled at each other. Friends. That simple. When life was that simple.
Lizzie was a born leader. A strong Aries girl. She knew her mind from a very early age. You never argued a point with her that’s for sure. I always looked up to her, held on to her every word.
I loved visiting her house. Her parents and Siamese cats were like family. I even had the cheek to ask to host my own tenth birthday pool party at theirs. I have foggy memories of sleepovers, the stories she would recite about their ghost and we’d sing along to Tell me on a Sunday. And the weekend pool parties where Lizzie would choreograph Madonna hits for us all to learn.
Then came the parties and fun. She was effortlessly cool, while we were total geeks. Ducks following the swan. We’d line up for make up application and covet dresses from her wardrobe. We spent all of our milestones together – the big ones and the everyday ones. Hair changes, disappointments, successes, heartbreaks – the endless school days.
Our friendship wasn’t perfect by any means. There were fall outs, jealousy, new best friends, a boyfriend swap mid-party. But when we were launched into adulthood all that was swept behind. Lizzie was always there. A constant.
When my mum was ill in hospital, Lizzie was the one who came and picked up my kids, she knew just what was needed. I didn’t have to ask. She followed my adventures and travels and listened patiently to my fears for what was next, while she was always so happy with her lot. So content with the here and now. Never faltering in her quest for a happy, stable family life in her idyllic Yorkshire village.
I’m so grateful for the times she came to visit me over the years. The last time in Geneva where she even sorted my sock drawer. Now that’s a friend. She was so practical and on it, while I always felt I was all over the place. We laughed that she was my Monica, and I was her Rachel.
I feel so sad that we didn’t meet as much as we should have in recent years. My fault entirely. Luckily, I was finally pinned down last autumn and we spent a wonderful weekend in the fresh sea air with our other bestie. The three of us left dry-mouthed and happy in heart. The three amigos.
Today would have been her 42nd birthday. But this year I can’t pick up the phone and sing happy birthday. Lizzie sadly passed away very suddenly in January. I still can’t get my around it. It feels unreal, surreal. She would have been great in this stressful lockdown – organised, positive, full of love and care for her gorgeous village community. She would have been rallying the troupes that is certain.
So today my Lizzie I can only send you birthday wishes along the wind.
You were always there for me. I should have told you that. And said thank you more, and I love you more. Tonight I’ll drink gin & tonic and eat pasta with spinach and cheese and toast to you. My darling friend. The French say it best.
You are missing from me.