Goodbye, My Friend

My first job when I graduated as a teacher was at a small independent primary school in central London.  I spent four years there and made some very close friends.  Some of whom I am still close to.  We keep in touch via email, text, Facebook and the odd phonecall.  And I always call them when I go to London.  It’s become harder to meet up though, because of Vinay.

In early 2010 I was talking to one of them and she told me about another one of our close friends.  Fiona.  The details are very hazy, so please forgive me.

Fiona had some sort of fit one evening.  I think it was during Christmas.  And she woke up to find that it was two days later.

After several tests, they found out that she had a brain tumour.  And because of the location of the tumour, it couldn’t be treated.  

Fiona?  Our Fiona?  Impossible!

I was in London that summer (awaiting Vinay’s arrival), and made sure I knew what was happening with her and how her husband and children were coping.

On Saturday 4th September 2010, I received an email from her daughter saying they’d moved her to a hospice, her memory was going and would I like to come and visit.  Yes.  I wanted to visit.  And planned to go there on Monday.  

Vinay was due on Tuesday.  My mum and mil are a bit superstitious and weren’t too keen on me going in my heavily pregnant state.  But I insisted I was going.  

When Monday came round, I didn’t go.  I was feeling heavy, tired and generally crappy.  I stayed in, put my feet up and felt bad about not going.

That was exactly seventeen months ago.  In the last seventeen months I’ve kept in touch with our common friends who have been able to update me on what’s been going on.

This morning her son emailed me.  

Fiona passed away last night.

I’m sitting here, with tears streaming down my face.  I’m thinking about her three children.  Her husband and her relatives.  How are they coping?  How have they coped all these months?

I feel so incredibly guilty for not having visited her.  She was a wonderful friend, who was always there.

So, Fiona – I know you’re up there.  Probably with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.  I know you’re watching over your loved ones.  Thank you for always being there.  For always listening.  And for always giving great advice.  And thank you for Friday nights at the pub!

I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you – but I was always thinking of you.

You will be missed by so many – colleagues, students, friends and family.

Love you and miss you.

Goodbye, my friend.



Wave Goodbye

You know how they say that children instinctively ‘know’ things?  Do you think it’s true?  I know they can pick up on how the people closest to them are feeling; but is there more to it than just that?

I ask because…

Earlier this week I posted about the passing of my uncle.  Vinay had met him a few times – but would not remember him.  I was trying to think about the last time they met, and I can’t recall it.  He knows my aunt, though.  We go over to see her now and then.  The last time he saw her was just over a month ago.

Today, I was going over to see how they were doing and took Vinay with me.  It was straight after playgroup and he was quite exhausted, but since I was already on that side of the bridge, I figured he’d just have to deal with it. 

He was comfortable in their home – he knows where the parrot is, he helped himself to a couple of biscuits and was happy being looked after by the girls while my aunt and I had a little catch-up.  

I could see he was getting more and more tired.  He would come to me and put his head in my lap.  Or if I picked him up, he’d rest his head on my shoulder.  When he’s had enough of being somewhere, he starts waving at people – indicating that it’s time to go home!

I asked him, ‘Shall we go home?’  He climbed into my lap and started waving.  

As we moved towards the front door, he saw a framed, freshly garlanded picture of my uncle and pointed at it.  I took him to the picture.  After staring at it for a couple of seconds, he touched it.  And then started waving goodbye.  To the picture.  It wasn’t his normal two or three second wave.  It was much longer.

Everyone was quite choked up and didn’t know what to say.  And then my aunt kissed Vinay’s hand.

My son always fills me with wonder.  While I hope that he amazes others in the same way, I know it’s quite unlikely.  But today, I know he touched the hearts of some people that are very important to me.