Last week we said goodbye to an old friend far too soon. Lucy was really supportive of my writing, so I hope she wouldn’t mind me sharing this.
Lucy was diagnosed with a brain tumour during our first year at university. After being sent straight to the hospital by an optician, having complained of blurred vision and headaches, her life changed forever.
That was over six years ago.
I admit I wasn’t a great friend when Lucy got ill. I didn’t check in as often as I should have, but the ‘what ifs’ are mine alone to live with. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the times I did get to spend with her over the past year.
She told me she’d wanted to have as many new experiences as possible, so I took her to the North Wales Burlesque Festival. I told her someday I’d be up there, and I’m sad to think she’ll never see it.
We also went to her first music festival – Festival Number 6 – based in the bonkers Italian style village of Portmeirion in North Wales.
I had gone fully stocked with neon paint, glitter and fairy lights. I was appalled when Lucy said she didn’t like glitter, and briefly questioned our friendship, but she did wear my fairy lights in case I lost her in the dark.
One of the most intimate moments I had with Lucy was wondering through the woods with a bottle of vodka in the middle of the afternoon. I asked whether she was afraid of dying, and we talked about it for a long time.
We were having a lovely time, but I don’t remember ever feeling as angry at the situation as I did on that day. She couldn’t believe what was happening because she felt so well. The only thing that hinted at her brain tumour was that she could get lost easily and needed help finding her way around.
She told me how people kept calling her brave, when really she had no choice in the matter. But I am proud of her for achieving so much when other people might just curl up and shut the world away.
The best case scenario, apparently, was another four years. This was excellent news to me – she’d be here a minimum of four years and not a day less – and surely a cure would have been found by then, anyway!
We caught up on normal girl stuff – I needed to know every single detail about her boyfriend – and I sent her to give the burger boy my number. We had a cracker eating competition with her friend Kevin, and when the rain became too traumatic to handle we went to my friend’s grandmother’s house for a hot shower, which Lucy was eternally grateful for.
We headed back to the festival in our freshly dried clothes, Lucy delighted with her idea to put carrier bags inside her leaking wellies. She said she would buy us lunch, and the outrage she expressed on learning that a portion of fish and chips would cost £10 (‘TEN POUNDS???’) was priceless.
Re-reading the blog post I wrote about the weekend, it feels surreal that she’s already gone. If I had realised that seven months later we would be saying goodbye, I would have made an effort to remember everything we said (and possibly put the vodka down).
Then there are the older memories. On a French exchange trip, we stayed with a miserable elderly couple who only fed us dry pasta, overcooked carrots floating in water, and canned hotdog sausages. In our room we found a swastika emblazoned book and were horrified to realise we were definitely probably living with Nazis.
The day after I heard about Lucy’s passing, I was at the BBC in Cardiff for work experience. On my way out the door I had grabbed any old notebook – this one hadn’t been used since 2011 – and a page fell open with the words:
‘Good things that have happened to me this Christmas:
- Lucy saying “I’m just happy I’m still here.”‘
I just about fell off my chair. I was transported back to Beaumaris town square on New Year’s Eve with all our friends, when Lucy said those words as we watched the fireworks. I will never forget it.
Lucy left us on Sunday March 19th. Not being able to say goodbye is difficult – I visited a day too late – but I’m glad she died surrounded by family.
That week I was at my friend’s grandmother’s house for the first time since last summer, and I could imagine Lucy curled in front of the fire wearing Nain’s dressing gown. It seemed surreal that an old lady was still here when Lucy wasn’t.
When I see the little green dot pop up on Facebook to signify that her account is active, my heart stops for a moment as I convince myself it was all a mistake.
I wish I had profound words to share but I’ve been struggling to find any that seem right. Nothing I write will be as good as the post Lucy herself wrote. I remember being so proud when she asked me to help her set up a blog.
I can’t go back and recall every single moment together, because life doesn’t work that way. All that’s left to say, I suppose, is that I’m so very proud to have known Lucy and am grateful to her for reminding me to make every moment count.