Yesterday my heart was broken, my dear friend died. It was only about six weeks ago that I found out he had pancreatic cancer and now he is gone.
I was client side, in North West London in a meeting, when my phone buzzed and the Whatsapp Group message came through. I gasped, I felt like someone had winded me and I left the meeting. Fortunately I found the chapel (I was in an NHS hospital).
As I quietly wept and tried to process the news that Malcolm was in his final hours two thoughts came thick and fast: the joy of deep friendship, and an overwhelming sadness.
We all met more than twenty five years ago, in Manchester at our church, St James and Emmanuel. There were ten of us or so to start with and after the evening service on a Sunday we went to the pub. The Dog and Partridge, so we became known as the D&P crew. Orginal, hey? We talked about everything and anything. We went through so much together as a group, marriages, sickness, broken hearts (mainly mine), faith, two of our crew moved to the US for a time, bereavements, politics, house buying, job changes and job losses, joys and heart aches.
There was always one fixture in the calendar. New Year. I had floated the idea of a house party and away we went, hiring a big house and having a big party. Malcolm always brought his slippers. Without fail. We were in our late twenties.
I brought gin and did the cooking, which I adored, with lots of help chopping and mixing, always handing out jobs to ‘anyone who is looking for work’. They were exceptional times. Our final house party was in 2000 – in February, going away for the millenium New Year was outrageously expensive.
I found a mansion. We had a ball, in the ballroom.
I cannot say much more. But I know we will remember him well, he was an exceptionally gifted musician, playing the organ at our wedding and loving the great outdoors. Many of us run now, so perhaps we might look at something to do together; it is too early to say.
Last night a colleague sent me a message saying that the price of deep friendship and love is deep loss – a price he is always willing to pay. Me too
I have lost a dear friend and my heart is broken