Today would have been the birthday of one of my best ever friends. Would have been? Or is? I'm not sure of the lingo. Because she's not with us anymore. So I want to write about her and on friendship to mark her birthday.
That's us in the pic, on my 30th.
Dee Linden was like a big sister to me. Honest, funny, bossy (in a good way!), dynamic. A coffee fiend, spiritual, a wearer of velvet and silver sparkles.
I went to write this post in Balans in Soho, an 'old haunt'. I remember going there with her at about 4am after a night clubbing, and having enchiladas - or was it quesadillas?! - with a cool bunch of people.
Dee made life very exciting for me. She helped me shine. She was a friend through so many phases of life. I was 22 when we met! Just a junior reporter on a local paper. We ended up dancing our way through Guildford, London and Brighton together. Laughing and setting the world to rights.
Although, I'm not sure she'd be too down with this tribute thing. So I won't go overboard. Instead I’m going to ponder on friendship.
Dee entrusted me with her diaries - a whole trunk full! Over the years since her passing I've been reading them. And I've learned so many lessons. I've laughed, cried, even shouted at her with glee or frustration as I've learned something she did or felt that I didn't know about!
So what of friendship, then, on this memory-laden day?
Well, friendship is a funny fish, for me especially as I get older. I've had friendships come and go over the years. Some ended naturally, some with a flourish of harsh words and bad feeling - on my part or someone else's.
I feel like I’m getting better at it – better at being honest with friends and being there for people.
Some friendships exist mainly on Facebook, and I think we dumb down that connection sometimes. Facebook is a hugely brilliant way to stay connected to friends we've made along the way. To celebrate with them, to laugh and cheer them on or commiserate, too.
There are friendships we hold onto that, if the person were a boyfriend or girlfriend, we'd have split up many years ago. There are others that deepen over the years that the bond is stronger than a relationship.
I'm discovering friendship with The Boyfriend, something I've never had before. I have new fledging friendships made at metro, a friend who I have known so long I was her bridesmaid.
Friendships that have been dormant now reawakening through work or life changes.
Something I didn’t count on is that friendship can last when a friend's gone - in memories. Sometimes in something so tangible like those diaries. So here's a few things my friend Dee has taught me through her friendship and her words.
* Love and be prepared to fail at it - but love, love, love.
* Try. Just keep trying, life is about trying. Failing. And trying again. With a smile and a sparkle.
* Follow your dreams. Even if it's scary.
* Dance like nobody is watching - or actually like everyone IS! - and always the most crazily to Crazy in Love by Beyoncé.
And most of all to be there, make time, or say that you need time alone. Be honest. Be kind. Be brutally honest when you need to, if you can. Hug, and say you love them. The last time I saw Dee I said 'I love you!'. She called back from the sofa 'Love you more!'
How often do we speak like that to friends? Only in rare moments I think. But it's as important as breathing. It's a memory that keeps me going.