Friday 1 July 2011

Goodbye my friend

Today is a day for pause and reflection, as today my friend Alex who committed suicide will be laid to rest. There is a big funeral in Islington that I am sure will be attended by many, many people. My friend had a way of touching the lives of everyone he met, and bringing warmth, light and love with him wherever he went. The world is certainly a less interesting place without his presence, and the Boy and I hope he has found the peace he couldn't find in this life now.

Another funeral - which would be our fourth in six months - feels too much for us, especially as this one will be such a big occasion and coming so swiftly on the back of us burying Baby Beans. So later this morning the Boy and I will go to our local church to say a private goodbye to a very special person. The last time we were there was to hear our wedding banns being read, in February last year, so today will be somewhat different.

As I prepare to say goodbye to my friend, memories of my time with him swim to the front of my mind. He was such a funny, lovely person. We spent a crazy weekend in Berlin together, just before I met the Boy, and many, many lost nights in Shoreditch. He loved the Golden Heart pub on Commercial Street and I shared many a pint with him in the Poet - the local pub to our work - on Folgate Street.

I remember one time a colleague had bought a scotch egg to have before we went out to the pub after work. Alex and I stole it from his desk when he went to the toilet and left him a ransom note for it, demanding he come to the pub immediately - where we had persuaded the bar staff to put the scotch egg in their fridge behind the bar. Alex had a way of enticing people to do anything for him.

I remember nights in with him watching the Scream and Scary Movie trilogies back to back in his flat in Tooting, while gorging ourselves on olives and houmous from his local Sainsburys and knocking back the wine.

I remember a day we both called in sick to work (hey, we were young!) and we lay in my bed all day watching Mean Girls over and over again, reciting the lines to each other. Alex had a memory like no other, and it always used to astound me as he would recount every detail from a conversation or a night out we'd had months and months later.

I remember us laughing so much I thought I would burst at a poster that had been put up for a lost cat in my street. It was entitled 'Have you seen my little girl?' and underneath was a picture of the most horrible cat you have ever seen, one of those hairless ones that looks like a plucked chicken. How we laughed, and ever since then I would get texts at random times from him that just read 'Have you seen my little girl?' and it would always bring a smile to my face.

I remember him driving the van full of all my gear when I moved into Empire Towers and it being about half an hour before we had to get the van back and it was still full of all my bits and bobs. We were literally flinging everything out into the communal hallway, laughing in that hysterical way that you do when you're under pressure, and we got the van back to the hire place in Vauxhall a matter of minutes before the deadline.

So many good times that jostle to the front of my mind, I also remember the bad times, when he first became ill and we first realised he had mental health problems. The first time he went missing and none of us could find him. He turned up months later after having lived under a hedge in Victoria Park, thinking he was married to Will Young... I wish we'd been able to reach him and that he'd managed to get the help he so badly needed and deserved, then I wouldn't be writing down my memories of him, we'd be creating new ones together...

But if there's one thing I've learned this year about life, it is what it is. Everyone's time here is limited and some don't get very far on their journeys. For the time A was with us and he was my friend, he made my journey that bit more colourful, my load that bit lighter and my soul that bit happier. And that is how I will remember him, today - and always. Goodbye my friend Alex. You will be missed.

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