Today, my friend found out her friend had died.
She was 32, she’d been ill, but nobody was expecting it. Completely out of the blue, it knocked my friend for six.
I didn’t know this person. But it really affected me. Is that selfish of me? Feeling sad about it – when I didn’t know her? How I’m feeling is absolutely nothing, less than nothing, worse than nothing, to how her actual friends, her actual family must feel.
Life is short. And bad things happen to good people. These are facts. Today shows that.
I got home from work today and I texted my mum, my boyfriend, my brothers, and my best friends, saying I loved them and I missed them. Ever since I moved to Cardiff “properly”, a.k.a did my thesis here, then got a job here, and just never moved home, I have had a low level current of guilt running through me almost permanently. It’s so hard to keep track of people. It’s so hard to keep tabs on what my brothers are doing – there’s 3 of them for one thing, I tend to speak to Mum rather than them, being boys – but when I call and she mentions an exam that Robert had, or that Stuart’s having a problem at work, or that her and Douglas were arguing about jobs (again)… I just feel awful that I didn’t know. That I wasn’t there.
Likewise, I console myself somewhat with the fact that “everyone” grows up and moves away and lives in different places to their friends. It’s normal, it’s what happens. And you’d think that with Facebook and Twitter and God knows what else, keeping up with everyone’s lives, holding on to all those threads, would be easy. But it’s not. I don’t want to read their news feeds. I want to hear their voices. But I go weeks without speaking to my mates. Not out of trying – I’m busy, they’re busy. But am I really too busy? Too busy to pick up the phone to my best mate? Again, guilty. I’m sure they’re the same – after all, they rarely manage to ring me either, it is how it is – but still. I want to know what’s going on with their lives. I want them, and my family, to remember that I moved away, I’m not always around, I’m going to miss things – but I am always thinking of them.
So I came home and I told them. Because what if, one day, they’re not there to tell?
Life is short. You never know how short. You have to celebrate it. You have to make it count. Do the things you love, with the people you love. Eat a cookie, because it tastes good, then go for a run, because it feels good.
I was really warmed by the story of Clare Squires, who died suddenly less than a mile from the end of the London Marathon. Looking at the picture of her, all I could think was, she doesn’t know. The person taking that picture didn’t know it’d be one of the last ones of her.
But like I said earlier, bad things happen to good people, and for no reason. It was the reaction that warmed me – over a million pounds has now been added to her fundraising total, donated by people moved by her story. Within us all is that humanity, that ability to reach out, to react, to empathise. It’s just so sad that it sometimes takes a shock, a catalyst, asad sad tragedy, to remind us. I’ve been feeling bad for weeks about missing out on my boys’ and my friends’ lives. But I only told them that today.