What makes someone a good friend, rather than an acquaintance?
I've been thinking about this a lot recently, ever since my best friend died in September. I keep examining our relationship, remembering how we first met and trying to form an image of her in happier times. We were colleagues who realised one day after a casual conversation, that we both had partners who were not interested in the sort of films we both liked. Our first cinema visit was to Starship Troopers in Stoneleigh and we were amazed to find that we were the only people in the cinema for the early showing. Most of the films we saw were rather less mainstream and we revelled in the foreign language seasons and rarities shown on the Director's Chair selection at our two local cinemas.
We'd chat before and after the films and occasionally managed to grab a lunch break at the same time, but rarely spent more than a couple of hours together as we lived a few miles apart and her life revolved around her family, voluntary work, home and garden, while I was busy with my partner, work, animals and pastimes.
Over the years it doesn't amount to a lot of shared time, so why is there this gaping hole in my life? For the first few weeks after she died, I had a constant pain in my forehead, as if all my grief was gathered there. Now the pain has faded, but I still feel such a tightness in my throat when I look at her photograph or remember a particular funny moment. A great comfort is my friendship with her husband and sons, so we are able to recall her in our memories.
When she died I was stunned, transfixed. Where had she gone? Was she still here, somewhere in the ether, or gone, totally vanished? How could she have left us all so suddenly? But thinking about it now, I think she chose her time to go. I only wish I could believe that we will meet again one day.
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