9 February 2012
Dear Suzy Blue
I’m wondering how to start this letter, as we’ve known each other such a long time, haven’t we – since we were five in fact. And I’m blessed with two best friends I’ve known since then, how fortunate am I? So that’s a lot of history, yes many many photos, stories, smiles and sobs. All part of love and of life.
So Suzy Blue, the story of me and you started at infant school. There were shared lessons, scandals and whispers. You were always the model student, with good grades and neat hand writing. I would get told off for talking in class, sometimes praised for my brilliance, sometimes chided for my lazy ways. At the end of the school day we would walk home, down the streets of our childhood, where we would reach your house first, say good bye and then I would troop the last few streets alone back to my home and hearth.
We were two in a group of four girls, who together shared endless childish summers, making mud pies in summer gardens; then hopping on the bus to dance classes or swimming, all mixed in with endless chatter, laughing and boasting. The other two girls are lost through time, occasionally glimpsed, part of the fabric of our lives.
My quiet weekends were boldened and brightened by the trips out to the countryside, the pair of us in the back of your dad’s car. On the best trips of all, there was a corned beef sandwich wrapped in wax paper, or the ultimate treat … a glass of lemonade in a pub garden.
The next phase in our lives meant we went to the same senior school, but amongst the 1500 girls there, we found ourselves at different ends of the campus, catching glimpses of each other and now just dipping in and out of each other’s lives. We had newer friends and walked different paths.
The clock turns again and we found ourselves together in the comfy chairs of the Sixth Form common room. We rediscovered our friendship and created our kinship. So then we embarked on Barcardi with Coke, school discos and boys …
The adult world beckoned and changed the ties, my Suzy Blue. You went out into the world of work, whilst I finished my A Levels. Then off I went to University and you became a nurse. Still we kept in touch and that far off time, was probably the last time I wrote you a letter. Hundreds of miles away at my northern University home, letters were such a life-line and each one was devoured and re-read and savoured, as they chronicled our ascent into adulthood.
After gaining a certificate, cap and gown, I returned home and we picked up where we left off, becoming closer still; pretty much living in each other’s pockets and still having alternative lives with family, friends and men. I practically lived at the hospital digs in your tiny bedsitter room. One of my favourite memories of then, is you and me walking home from the night club at 2 in the morning – an endless 3 miles home, taxi not an option … in our bare feet, our high heels dangling from our hands … ah – burning feet, happy days!
And as they loaded us into a car, with our holiday suitcases, our mothers said how they could not imagine the other one not being there … like sisters they said …
Then men happened … then a baby – your first baby, my god daughter Elizabeth; and so the edges of our relationship shimmied and altered. Then work, more babies, the process of growing up and going through life.
You now a married women with 3 children, nourishing and nurturing the next generation. An amazing mother, putting in so much love, so much effort and so much time. The boundaries of our relationship altered again and still we became closer. I became part of the family. Me now cool ‘Auntie’ to Elizabeth, Jenny and James. There were holidays in caravans, soothing baby tears, watching the children grow and along the way a myriad of shared sorrows and joys. Part and not part of your family, part of the in-crowd of grand parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews …
And when my father died, you were there and when your father died much later, I was there and that is how it was.
And time ebbs and it flows and then it took you away from me to live in Africa. So I grieved for a while and when we phoned each other, we would nearly always be in tears, letting the other know they were missed and loved. You came back to me though, you always do.
And then a shock – you became a grand mother! Yes, that makes me a Great Aunt! Look: you know your friends will bring children into your life, but now time and love take on a whole other amazing dimension …
Well Suzy Blue, that is me and that is you. And there are times when you are gone from me again and yet I don’t grieve now, because after so many years, we are wiser and warmer. And we know that where ever we are, we love each other, through sharing and friendship and time; and every now and again, we remind each other of that gorgeous big little fact – don’t we?
Lots of Love n Stuff,
[PS: Dear Reader, if you liked this letter, you can buy all my letters in book form by following this link…]