Today I said goodbye to my friend.

I walked into an already packed church, the crowd snaking down the footpath far outside. I took a seat in the pew, the priest was anxious to get started. The crowd was so large they could never all have time to sympathise, before the official start time.

I was happy to wait, from where I sat I could not see the coffin draped in white that would transport her to her final resting place. I didn’t want to see it.  Through the mourners though, came her beautiful, beaming smile, from her photograph place atop.

She would not have liked all the fuss about her, she would rather the attention was on someone else, I know this because she was loving and giving, a little self-deprecating. I wished she could have seen, just how important everyone felt she was. Important enough to take time out, of busy lives in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week to come say goodbye, to say “thank you”. She left an imprint on all of us, however we had come into contact in our lives.

For me, she was a dear friend, unfortunately not a lifelong friend, but long enough to be significant in my everyday life. We found each other, when we both needed someone. Someone who understood…….and now she is gone.

My friend could talk for all of Ireland, she could sort problems with a cup of tea and a chat, I laughed, in between the tears, when that was mentioned at her service.  We would often talk for an hour or more on the phone, forgetting what it was we were supposed to be doing, instead. When we met, she would barely draw breath between sentences. When we parted, we would always envelop each other with a tight hug, because we never knew when things might change, when it might be the last one. Things were always on the cusp of change, we both knew, but we both dreamed for it to be different……..and now she is gone.

We tried to find humour in the most horrific of scenarios, she tried to hide her anxiety, to protect me, I did the same, for her. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and then we were honest with each other, like we weren’t or couldn’t be with anyone else. We needed that, we needed each other…….and now she is gone.

The great and the good of her area came to pay respect, a thousand people maybe more. She is much-loved, much respected…….. missed.

I will miss her messages, often late at night, when we both should have been sleeping, or at least trying, but some fretful feeling had descended that we couldn’t shake off. I will miss her quirky wisdom, I will miss the sound of her voice, from her whatsapp messages. I will miss the way she always asked about my children, remembering exactly what I had told her about them, in the past. I will miss the way she always had a plan, a way of looking forward, however bad it got, even at it’s very worst…… it couldn’t take that from her. She held on tight to herself, her dreams, her personality…….and now she is gone.

She didn’t wage a war, or lose a battle, we both understood you can’t, thats a fantasy created by others……to give them a way of understanding the unfathomable……the reality of our lives not theirs.

I already miss seeing her at clinic, knowing I won’t see her smile, greeting me again, her knowing, her understanding like no other person in the room, we were in the same boat……..and now she is gone.

She was forty-six, she had Melanoma cancer, she was my friend, and now she is gone.