It’s been over a month since I last wrote anything. I’m a little disappointed in myself for leaving it so long, but it’s been a hard and very painful few weeks.
Today, it has been one month since one of my very best friends lost her battle with cancer. I’ve been really struggling to find the words to write a blog to do her any justice. Even today, words have been floating around my head but haven’t been able to arrange themselves in any decent order. Clearly, it’s much harder to write about these things than you can even imagine.
I first met Sam in January 2010. I was at at a job interview for the studio which would shortly after become my work place. She stood out to me. Firstly because of her stunning red hair and radiant smile. We got chatting, and as it turned out, our backgrounds in photography were very similar and we hit off instantly. The other person who stood out to me that day was a tall, blonde girl named Liz. I passed the interview and those two girls went on to become my two best friends. I think I knew almost instantly that these two were always going to be so much more to me than work colleagues.
Having just moved my life across the country for the second time in a year, meeting these girls made my life so much easier. I’d recently moved in with my boyfriend at the time who lived in Coventry. That relationship didn’t last for long after the move. Things could have turned out very badly, but having the support of Liz, Sam and some of the other ladies from work made me determined to make everything to work out. That’s when I moved to Birmingham.
Since living in this city, I have learned a lot about life. While it mostly feels sad and unfair right now. One of the most important things is friendship. Before coming here, I’d never really had a very large, strong support network of female friends. I’d almost gotten to the stage where seeing groups of female friends on TV, in films and even in books felt like they may be a myth. Not so. I finally felt like I fit in somewhere, like I’d found somewhere I could be myself, and be accepted. One day, while sitting outside of the changing rooms, waiting for our clients to change, Liz said it felt as though I had always been there. I don’t think I’ve ever told her this, but it’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
Over the last few years, life has inevitably changed a lot. The studio closed down and lives became scattered and people began to grow apart. Not through resentment or drama, but purely because circumstances change and it can be difficult to keep up. I will always be thankful for the fact I managed to maintain these friendships though. They have not only taught me how to be a better person, but have also seen me through some pretty dark times.
I have many fond memories of Sam. It feels so very wrong to be writing that sentence.Reading it back just brings it all back once again. I am so grateful that we are all keen photographers and have plenty of physical mementos to keep with us always.
The memory which stays with me most is of my hen night. Liz and Sam had planned and prepared what sounded like a wonderful day for me, sadly due to Liz being incredibly ill, it just wasn’t to be. Sam took over and told me we could do anything I wanted. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but in the end we decided on visiting the Black Country Museum. It was a January, so naturally the place was hardly a hive of activity, but that just made it even better for me. We wondered around for a few hours in the freezing cold, we had proper chip shop chips and spoke to people in costume about the displays. There was a huge hail storm on the way home, purely incidental but something I vividly remember all the same. It didn’t put a dampener on the rest of the day though, and luckily we were joined by the rest of the wedding ladies that evening. I will never forget the kindness she showed me that day, everything could have gone so very wrong, and it had already been very stressful up to that point, I’d even felt like cancelling the whole thing at one point, but instead I have memories of a beautiful friend who was taken too soon.
This is how I will always remember Sam. The loveliest, liveliest person you could ever meet. She was funny, compassionate and loyal. My heart broke a little on the day she phoned to tell me about her diagnosis, but she was strong. She fought that bitch for a year, long, hard and with dignity. She never lost her spirit, and kept in contact with all who cared about her. I don’t think I can ever fully do this girl justice, she lived her short life fuller than many ever will and this just continues to encourage me to be a better person, striving to live and not purely exist.
The words are running out now. I’m not sure they were ever any good in the first place, so forgive me if this has not read as coherently as I would have liked.
My beautiful friend, I miss you. I love you. I hope you are at peace, but most of all, I hope we meet again one day.
My Hen Do. January 2014.