A year ago yesterday, I wrote this post for my friend Lauren, when she would have turned twenty - something I wanted to repeat this year. As you will have noticed, though, there wasn't a post yesterday. This wasn't because I didn't have time to write one, despite being busy - I did. It was simply that the coming of her 21st hit me harder than I expected it to, and I couldn't quite see through the tears to write a coherent piece which I felt would do her, and the day, justice. At first I wasn't sure quite why I was so affected but, as I thought about it overnight, I came to comprehend my sadness.
I think, however aware we both might have been about the slim odds that it would be so, we still managed to believe that we could see our future selves celebrating our 21sts together. After all, when you're thirteen and fourteen, twenty one is half your life again. It's dreamland - and dreaming is what you do when reality is too scary to face. So we dreamt...and I guess that, yesterday, the understanding that the reality had finally caught up with me was a little too much to bear...at least in writing.
This post isn't about grief, though. As is my custom, I lit a candle - and, whilst I was watching the flame grow, I had a thought. A thought which has come to me many times before, and which I try to remember, but of which I don't think I've ever fully caught hold. Lauren wouldn't want me to be sad. It sounds so vapid, and looks terribly trite written down, but I think it's true. She'd want me to have fun instead - after all, it was from her that I got my love for Cyndi Lauper, however difficult it is for me to listen to that classic song now that she's not here to hear it with me.
More than that, I like to think she celebrated her day, wherever her very particular bundle of molecules has ended up - and I like to believe that she's kept her promise and is watching each and every step I take along the road towards this rather outlandish goal of mine. Her dad said, all those years ago now, that he hoped she was 'breathing deep and running free' - and I hope, too, that I can remember her saying that the most important thing was 'to be happy' - because it's in Lauren's memory that I'm keeping going, and working towards 'running free' myself.
I hope you're proud, best pal, and I love you. Happy birthday.
|A candle for your 21st|