I picked up the phone to share momentous news with my friend today.
A few days ago she was the first person I thought of when I emerged from the first job interview in …oh … 30 years. I knew she’d laugh and reassure me over my unpreparedness and my fashion faux-pas. She’d share the outrage over all the questions they didn’t ask and interrogate me on how I answered the ones they did.
Today she would have screeched with a mixture of horror and delight when she heard I was becoming an employee after decades on the run as a freelance. But she’d “get” it; the security, the excitement, the trepidation, the adventure. She’d offer wisdom. And she’d throw a party to celebrate. The fizz would fly.
We shared laughter for years. Occasionally tears. Often shopping. News; always news. She partied at my wedding and ensured that I survived when the marriage crashed. She came to my mother’s funeral and my sons graduation parties. We holidayed in Spain and Sweden. And we made radio programmes together, although on one occasion we were so distracted by one another’s company (or was it the previous night’s gin?) we forget to load the recording equipment and had to drive miles to retrieve it. There was fun. Always food, drink and a bed when times were tough or tremendous. Unsuccessful matchmaking. The best of friendship. Legendary stories.
She wasn’t at the end of the phone today. And nor would she have been on any of the other times in the past month when I’ve reached to share a snippet or some nonsense. Or check on grammar. There will be no Christmas carols round her piano this year, no Hogmanay get-together or walk on the beach at New Year. And I won’t hear her voice or her laugh ever again.
Life is different without Jean. I know she’d tell me – and everyone else who misses her – to get a grip. But we’re just a bit lost without her; our go-to friend who provided the sense and the sparkle.
And it will be a long time before I lose the urge to share.