I’ve just heard an old friend from school has died. She was in the year above me so she would have been 43 or 44. Apparently she was diagnosed with lung cancer just a couple of months ago and went very quickly.
I’d not seen her since school, and we were only really friends for one year, but it was a great year – the best year of my childhood probably. 1984 going into 1985. Second year at high school. The first year at school was ruined by tests for future streaming – red band for the ‘clever’ ones, white band for the ‘not so clever’ and ATS (I think?) for the future inmates of Strangeways prison – joke, some of them were nice and it was a stupid system.
The third year was ruined by the stress of having to choose GCSE subjects which we were told would shape our ENTIRE lives so we must choose wisely…
Then forth and fifth year were study and exams (and I took some exams early so for me it was two years of exams).
How long ago and unimportant that all seems now.
But second year was great. It was totally stress-free and fun. And the summer after the school year ended was lovely too.
It was the year I first got *really* drunk (she was there and drunk too that day), the year I went to my first concerts (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, followed quickly by Bruce Springsteen). I guess it was the year I basically started to grow up.
I had a massive crush on her all year. A real, proper, teenage crush. The sort that comes and goes with the seasons. We were totally unsuited and she wasn’t interested in me like that (although she did seem to like the attention and flirted a bit). She even had a really annoying phrase – ‘atch’ as in ‘actually’ – eg, ‘that’s not true, atch’ – but even that didn’t put me off. In fact, I think I grew to like it… such is the power of teenage crushes.
Our school was on two sites. Years 1-3 in one school and years 4 and 5 in another, a few miles away. So at the end of that year, when I went into 3rd year, and she went into 4th, she moved to the other building (along with most of my friends actually) and that was that.
I saw her on Friends Reunited a few times over the years. She became a mother, and apparently a grandmother.
I kept meaning to get in touch one day. Meet up for a drink. It would only have been once I suspect. We wouldn’t have had a great deal to talk about long-term. But it would have been a good night. We’d have talked about my best friend at the time Matthew, who was her friend too, and her best friend (whose name I sadly can’t remember). I’d probably have blushed a bit when I reminisced about watching her in the playground from the window of drama class a couple of floors up…
But I never did get in touch. I never did meet her again.
Life can be short. We all know that but we try not to think about it. Apart from my permanent friends (some of whom I’m still friends with) I tended to have a different best ‘school’ friend (classmates I guess) each year in secondary school. At least two of them are dead already. And now Emma has died too.
The next time I think of someone I’ve not seen for a long time who I’d like to meet again, I’m going to do my best to get in touch and at least say hi, if not meet up. Easier said than done I know but … I hope you do the same.