Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Girls: on the edge of their future - The Gallery

This week's gallery over at Sticky Fingers is entitled Girls. I don't think I've joined in with the Gallery before, but this theme spoke to me when I saw it and I couldn't not join in.

This is me and my best friend Jillian. We are both about 18 years old here - Jill is four days younger than me.

We first met in infants school. I remember the first day I saw her, sitting with her class at the top of the square outline the pupils made in the hall at assembly. My class sat down the side, to the left.

She was in Mrs Mackie's class and I was in Miss Watson's class. I don't remember playing with Jill in the playground or even talking to her then, but I do remember that was the first time I saw her.

We became friends in junior school - we were in the same class there. We became friends in first year, but better friends in second year. After that I think we sat next to each other until the end of juniors, though I can't be sure exactly. It was the 70s and I remember a bunch of us decided to set up a band and went to Jill's house to practise - she had a Bontempi organ so was the most musically equipped of our group.

Jill's voice was amazing. To hear her sing, you thought you were hearing an angel. I was jealous of that voice but very proud that my friend could sing like that.

All through secondary school we were together. We stayed on into sixth form. I was the oldest of our gang and when I turned 18 the others pretended they had forgotten my birthday. They hadn't of course and Jill and the rest presented me with that much coveted 18th birthday key.

Once we moved on to the world of work we drifted apart a little and then fell out over something silly. I think that was around 1985. It took a few years before we got back together and made up, and our lives had moved in very different directions by then.

Now living in London, I saw Jill whenever I went home. She never moved from the north east. She came to visit me once - Princess Diana had just died and we watched her funeral on TV, crying. We had been out the night before to celebrate my birthday, which was the same day as the funeral. It didn't seem right to celebrate it on the actual day.

In 2002 my beautiful friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. There followed almost five years of heartache, operations, but above all optimism. Jill raised money for Cancer Research the entire time she was ill - from having her lovely long hair shaved off for charity before the chemo could take it, to walking the Great Wall of China. None of us ever thought she wouldn't make it, it just wasn't an option.

She grew strong again and her hair grew back, she was back to normal. Almost in the clear, the cancer came back in her liver. Even then, none of us, her family and friends, had any doubt she would make it, which made the outcome even harder to accept.

My darling Jillian died in 2006. My pain wasn't the worst, I know that - she left behind her beloved children, her mam and dad and her sister Jen. She left a massive hole in my life too though.

The last day I saw Jill was in the chapel of rest in Gateshead

I am very proud to have known her and proud to say she was my best friend.

Her sister took this photograph - two girls just about to embark on the rest of their lives.


  1. aww thats such a lovely but sad story I am sorry you lost your best friend. This makes this picture very special so thank you for sharing x

    1. Hi Jaime, thank you for your comment. When I saw the theme I had to post this photo, it means so much.


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