Monday, 19 March 2012
We will remember them.
The first time I went to University was in 1997. I had chosen a fairly pointless course at a fairly good University, so it all evened out in the end! When our accommodation forms came in the post I was out of the country and had left my Mum very strict instructions as to what I wanted. The only part she followed was the college. However, she picked all girls 'quiet' accommodation. At 19 years old 'quiet' accommodation was 'your life ends here' accommodation in my eyes. I was livid and did no end of shouting down a crackly phone line. As far as I was concerned she had signed my social death warrant.
As with pretty much everything of importance in my life, what I expected to happen and what did happen was entirely different. This decision, made without me has turned out to be one of the most important of my life. The friendships I made in the flat of girls I was in and those with the boys downstairs are some of the most important I will ever have.
Not only did it turn out my now Husband lived in the room below but we all became so close we lived in houses next to each other when we left halls, went on holidays together and remain as close as family, with all that that entails. Some of us might be closer than others but our intricate histories and feelings for each other mean that whilst we may not see each other as often we are as close.
Obviously over the last 15 years our lives have changed, relationships started and ended, job changes, location changes. Marriage, births and most tragically of all, a death.
One of our number always intended to be an army officer and that is what he became. In 2010, weeks after I gave birth to the first child among our number, he was wounded in Afghanistan and flown to the UK for treatment. I remember his best friend ringing me, saying that his family were worried we would hear through the press. From that moment on we were all desperately hoping, but over the coming days that turned into weeks it was clear things were not going to improve. Our lovely friend died three weeks after he sustained his injuries with his parents, sibling and partner by his side.
We attended his funeral, along with literally hundreds of others, then his more intimate cremation. The tears shed that day we not just for our friend, but for the huge hole his death has ripped into the fabric of the lives, futures and relationships of so many, many people.
This weekend those of us who could, met at the National Memorial Arboretum to see his name and remember him. I have to say I barely made it through the gate before I cried. I am just so unutterably sad we have to visit here rather than see him and his partner get married, have children, grow grey hairs and a pot belly. It helps to know I am not the only one and that the rest of us still have each other.
We miss you, we talk about you, we remember you....
* I hope you will understand and forgive my rather melancholy post.
** I have not given more detail about my friend as he was an incredibly private person and I would like to continue to respect this.