10 years…

Apologies in advance, blog friends. This is one of those posts where it’s less something I want to write about, but more something I need to write about. So humblest sorries in advance if it gets a little wobbly, or incoherent. This is stuff I’m dealing with.

This time of year is always a little sad for me. Always a little tinged with grey. Always a little less than. And this year it’s hitting me harder than it has for a few years. Because it’s ten years.

Ten years since I got off the school bus and (literally) skipped down the path to home, head full of boys and classes and parties and Dawson’s Creek. I was later than my sister, because I’d had orchestra, or a lesson, or met friends up the street, or something. I remember that. I bounded through the front door and yelled my usual hello to the rest of the clan. We don’t really stand on ceremony in our family.

My mum came out of the kitchen, her face a study in worry.

“Claire, come in here please. Sit down.”

She looked really, really worried. I remember feeling sorry for her, because I was sure she had something to tell me about my little Nana. Little Nana had been ill since I could remember, and we all dreaded the call that would tell us she’d taken another turn for the worst. And of course, that made me worry for mum…because little Nana was her mum. This wasn’t about her, it turned out.

I wouldn’t sit down, either. I’m a stubborn one.

“Claire, it’s A (I’m not going to put her name, if that’s OK). Nell called earlier. Claire, A passed away today.”

I felt like my legs had been kicked out from under me. I collapsed on the stool I’d disdained so recently. I struggled with what my mum had just told me.

A? Not A, surely? Not my vibrant, clever, popular friend? Not the girl I’d shared a dorm with for four out of five years out of boarding school? The girl who’d woken me up early with her darn swimming practices, the girl who’d laughed when I’d fluffed up a solo, the girl who I’d gone to watch play rugby early on far too many icy Sunday mornings?

Yes, A.

My poor mum didn’t know what to do. What can you do? I think it was even harder for her that A was a friend I’d made at boarding school – Mum didn’t know her, so to speak. None of my friends in Scotland knew her. But I did. I knew what she worried about, I knew what she dreamt about, I knew what silly little noises she made when she slept (not a snorer, A. More a murmerer), I knew that if I lip-synched along to music on my walkman while we studied it would drive her mad, until she finally threw something at me to make me stop.

We’d been very close. When we both moved back to home (homes 600 miles apart) we wrote and called often, every week or so, at least once a month (this was before email kicked in).

After a brief chat with mum, I went into the dining room to call Nell, who filled me in. A, my talented, wonderful, hilarious friend, may have taken her own life (officially “misadventure”). She felt so alone and so lost and so full of hurt and anger and sadness that she chose not to live. That poor, poor girl. We chatted, I noted down some stuff, and I went to go book flights (which my parents paid for. God bless them. If I hadn’t have been able to say goodbye it would have been devasting).

The next few days were so tough. The people around me knew I was hurting, and could see I was struggling, but no-one knew quite what to do. But there were a million little kindnesses I’ll never forget – friends who just gave me a hug, or let me ramble on about A, teachers who let me just sit in class like a zombie, or who drove me home because they could see that despite the fact I’d got myself to class (I was determined not to miss any school – I think I was trying to keep it together in any way I could). My fantastic family. who realised that I just needed to cry and be quiet and beat myself up. I remember lying on the carpet in my room and just crying for hours. Why had she gone? Could I have stopped her? Did I let her down? What if? What if? What if?

Nell asked me (on A’s family’s wishes) to write the eulogy. I poured my soul into that thing. I was determined that all of the people who were going to be there to say goodbye to this amazing person were going to hear a eulogy worthy of a person so awesome.

I flew down to the funeral. I saw friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. We shared stories about A, we caught up, we made plans and on every face was etched sorrow, and disbelief. People shouldn’t die at 17. People definitely shouldn’t choose to die at 17. On the day of the funeral it was just a blur of sadness, little remembrances which still catch me from time to time. And then back to reality.

Writing this all down I’m crying. As silly as it may sound, I still miss my friend. I still wish, more or less everyday that someone, anyone could have helped her, could have stopped this all happening.

I am a better person for having known A. I am a stronger person for having lost A.

The day A passed was the day I grew up, and losing her changed me in ways I would not have expected. It brought my faith into a much clearer, sharper focus. Bizarrely, this time of sorrow made me much more certain of the role God had in my life, and shaped the Christian I am today.

It also made me much more aware of being available, and how important that is. I’ve been told time and time again that nothing I could have done could have helped A, but there will always be a part of me that thinks if I’d just written, just called…. I may be a pain sometimes, with my calls and letters and texts and comments and emails, but by God, I never want to feel that way again. If my being there can help just one person, I’ll be there. Conversely, I think sometimes I find it harder to let people get closer to me. Which might be why I can blog about it, typing away on my trusty laptop, but can’t actually sit down and talk to someone about it. I close up. I shut up.

Our boarding school had a big reunion last month. I did consider going, but the thought of being there without her to help me take the mick out of various things just wasn’t an option…

A would be 27 now (she was exactly a month older than me). Lord knows what she could have achieved, that girl was a big old pile of talent and potential and so very loved. I would give anything to be able to send her a stupid postcard or a text. I miss my friend.

Thanks for reading if you took the time.



  1. PhilH
    7th September 2008 / 7:43 pm

    I have no idea what it’s like to lose a friend like that.(((hugs)))

  2. Steve
    7th September 2008 / 8:32 pm

    I don’t know what to say to this. I really don’t. That was a really emotional post and I’m glad you’re remembering all the great things about her and I’m glad she inspired you to become the person you are today.You are amazing and she sounds like she was amazing too

  3. Big Ben
    7th September 2008 / 9:09 pm

    Very sad. I lost a friend in high school, but we had not been close in a number of years.It is best to remember the times you had together than the grief of losing her.

  4. Anonymous
    7th September 2008 / 9:50 pm

    i’m so sorry, claire. i’m glad you are honoring your friend through writing about and remembering her…and sharing your memories with us.~ruby.

  5. Riot Kitty
    7th September 2008 / 10:51 pm

    Claire, I am so sorry. I am glad, though, that you are able to talk/write about this – so many people just hole up and pretend things like this don’t happen.

  6. vivavavoom
    8th September 2008 / 3:06 am

    wow….that was beautiful, and I am so sorry to have read that just because I am sorry that happened to you. But you feel free to vent about it any time, any year. “I am better for knowing her, and stronger for losing her”…that is poetic and powerful. I have an anniversary a little like this coming up in October. I don’t think it ever gets easier to figure out why, the tears still come. thank you for sharing it!!

  7. Jaime
    8th September 2008 / 4:33 am

    Oh sweetie…this pulled at my heart. Such beautiful writing about something so painful. A good friend of mine took his life a couple of years after we graduated, and I know those feelings….if only I had done this, or that…if only they knew how loved they were, maybe they would still be here.The bond you had with her was beautiful, and that can never be taken from you.Big hugsxoxo

  8. Siobhan
    8th September 2008 / 8:11 am

    “I am a better person for having known A. I am a stronger person for having lost A.”What can I say? I love you very much.

  9. Anna Spanner
    8th September 2008 / 8:29 am

    That is such a beautiful post chuck. I can’t think of any words that can actually compete with what you wrote.It’s great that you can remember so many things about her, and what you wrote is a wonderful tribute.You are quite brilliant darlingxx

  10. Sacred Suzie
    8th September 2008 / 10:44 am

    Loss is so very hard. I’m glad you honoured her here, this way, on such an important day. I’m sure she appreciates it too. Surrounding you with gentle pink light.

  11. Anonymous
    8th September 2008 / 11:15 am

    Claire, we’ve only just “met” so I don’t know you at all really. But I saw your note on the forum, and came to read…… I just want you to know I am thinking of you. Manda(manda59)

  12. JLee
    8th September 2008 / 1:27 pm

    Claire, I am so sorry about losing your friend. It is especially painful when someone takes their own life and I’m sure there is a little anger as well. I’m glad you took some time to reflect and remember her.

  13. Jon
    8th September 2008 / 1:28 pm

    The fact you still remember her so fondly shows how great a friend and person she was. Very sad, but very beautiful at the same time.

  14. Drywall Mom
    8th September 2008 / 3:57 pm

    I have mixed feelings about this kind of subject. All I know is that I have alot of different emotions of sadness, anger and the question of “why” going through my head when I hear about someone that did that. Depending on the situation, it might be better to, which is sad to say. Therer was a girl that I knew growing up that I didn’t like that much, we were too different, but she was friends with another one of my friends and two years ago, my friend called me and told me that she had committed suicide and that her 3 yr old son found her. I do not wish that on anyone, even if I hated them. I just feel deep remorse for the whole situation. I’m sorry that happened.

  15. Diane Mandy
    8th September 2008 / 4:19 pm

    You shouldn’t apologize for this post. It was sad, but BEAUTIFUL.

  16. Wiwille
    8th September 2008 / 5:01 pm

    I lost a good friend a couple years ago. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. It’s a hard process to lose someone so young. I wish you the best of hugs as you remember her.

  17. Anonymous
    8th September 2008 / 6:56 pm

    love you lady, sending you all my hugs and wishing could administer a real hug. Beautiful girl, am thinking of you Mlle Wilson x x x x

  18. Christielli
    8th September 2008 / 9:59 pm

    I also have no idea what it’s like to lose a close friend. I am so sorry that you have experienced such a loss, but I am also glad that you experienced such a great friendship. *hugs*

  19. Nicole
    8th September 2008 / 10:17 pm

    ((((((((Oh Claire))))))))))):o( “A” sounded like a totally awesome friend and person. I could never know how hard this is on you, but I do understand that you are hurting. The only people I have lost were elderly relatives. I still miss my Gedo like no one can understand and get teary eyed everytime I think of him or see an old picture :o( It is not silly that you still miss her. You loved her! ((((((more hugs)))))))

  20. Scarlet
    8th September 2008 / 10:35 pm

    I know what it’s like to lose a close friend, but not that way. I’m so sorry. I know it wasn’t easy writing this, but I’m glad to know this part of you now. :)God bless.

  21. Christina
    8th September 2008 / 10:57 pm

    ((((Claire)))))I’m so sorry about A. It’s so hard to lose someone, especially so unexpected. I hope you can find comfort this time of year, and each year gets less and less painful.

  22. Miss Ash
    8th September 2008 / 11:23 pm

    Claire that was beautiful and sad and tears were streaming down my face. I’m sorry you had to lose someone so young and so wonderful…hugs to you!!

  23. Crystal
    9th September 2008 / 12:01 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. A was blessed to have a friend like you. 🙂

  24. Jen
    9th September 2008 / 12:36 am

    ((hugs))Claire, Im sorry to hear about your friend, its never easy to loose some one so close..even after the years pass but it sounds like you had a wonderful friend.

  25. TammyIsBlessed
    9th September 2008 / 4:25 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. It’s definitely not silly that you’re feeling so much pain 10 years later. Praying for you.

  26. CC
    9th September 2008 / 9:05 pm

    I’m so desperately sorry that you had to go through something like that. I have no idea what it’s like to loose a close friend, but I know the feeling of shock, horror and utter disbelief that someone has died much too young. I’m chilled and my eyes are full just reading your post. I’m so glad you have your faith to rely on because sometimes that is the only thing that can get you through this crazy life in this crazy world. I hope one day you’ll find peace and be able to look back on your time with A and smile and laugh and remember all of the good without (too much) of the sad. Thought and prayers are with you and A’s family as you undoubtedly are all still hurting and healing. God be with you!

  27. Lamont
    10th September 2008 / 12:31 pm

    Claire, Thank you for share “A” life with us – your account of your friendship and your loss was honest and beautiful to read.I lost my sister to an illness when she was 15 and I was 12 – a few months after we’d been baptized on the same day. The middle of July always has a sad feel to it for me. It was 25 years ago this summer – and I still miss her. I named my daughter after her (Heather) and she now is 15. Tara

  28. Alice
    10th September 2008 / 5:42 pm

    this is a gorgeous tribute to your friend. all your love for her comes out so clearly, even after 10 years. i’m so sorry she’s gone. *hugs*

  29. daisies
    10th September 2008 / 6:04 pm

    its such a heartbreaking loss, i know … i think we have losses in our life that always sit with us and make us more beautiful and more sad all at the same time. it is beautiful that you still honor her … much love dear one, xo

  30. rawbean
    11th September 2008 / 7:38 pm

    I think its amazing that you shared this story with us. It takes a lot of courage and is such a nice tribute to your friend. It’s clear your memories of her are still strong.

  31. ms chica
    15th September 2008 / 2:51 pm

    It is touching the way she will continue to live on in your memory.I am sorry you did not have more time together.

  32. Jill
    16th September 2008 / 4:45 pm

    Wow – Very heartfelt and well said. I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you two were very close, so it must have been quite difficult.What a beautiful tribute to her.

  33. robin-bird
    19th September 2008 / 12:54 am

    i read every word claire. there isn’t anything for me to say except i read every word and i like you for your loving, earnest heart. i’m glad i went all the way back to the place where i last commented. i wouldn’t have wanted to not know this about your life.XO

  34. Milla
    9th September 2012 / 11:39 am

    So sorry for your loss! Iread it from the Sunday Social and I must say this is a very well written post about a topic most people do not discuss. I lost my best friend a while back to, even though my family knew him, it was very difficult and I still miss him so much!

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