When I first saw the ‘friend that made me me’ series here on Any Other Woman, there was someone that immediately sprung to mind. I count myself lucky enough to have many great friends that have helped me through the highs and the lows that life throws at us; great friends (and family) that have all played an instrumental part in making me the woman I am today. This obviously makes it very hard to select just one, but the particular person that I wanted to write about today is particularly apt as the ‘friend that made me me’ because she has known me all of my life, been there for me all of my life through good times and bad.
Lou and I have always been proud of the fact that we have been friends for so long. We have had many a debate about whether we are each other’s ‘oldest ever friend’ or ‘longest ever friend’. Either way it is all semantics because we have been in it for the long haul, through thick and thin, best friends from the start.
On occasion we have doubted that we retained that closeness at certain stages in our lives but I have letters, Facebook messages and texts from throughout the years to prove we did – the ‘love you always’ signoffs and the regular declarations: ‘you’re one of the best friends I’ve ever had’ no matter what age.
My memory isn’t my strong point and there are so many things that I wish I could recall from our younger years, but a game that we used to play at primary school always sits vividly in my mind. A little ditty that we called ‘we obey the king’s rules’ involved dancing from alternate corners of the school netball court, spinning each other around in the middle and dancing back to the opposite corner, whilst singing ‘we obey the king’s rules, we obey the kings rules, every word that he says.’ I hope that it was quite quickly after this that we both acquired a slightly better grasp of the English language and discovered that the word we were looking for was ‘disobey’, but we felt terribly rebellious at the time.
Lou has often delighted in sharing stories from my younger years about me kissing drain pipes (pretending it was Robbie Williams). An odd habit, I know, children do funny things don’t they?! But some might say that at least it demonstrates my loyalty. Robbie still holds a prized spot on my ‘top 5’ list (Ross from Friends stylee) twenty years down the line.
Loyalty is most certainly a trait that I learnt from Lou. Throughout the years we have both had other friends come and go, such is life, but we have also both picked up other ‘keepers’ along the way. Lou has always made time for all of her ‘besties’, no matter what – making memories, celebrating successes and milestones, lifting us when we are down or just some plain and simple partying.
Lou is the friend that warms up the bed with the power of her own breath on a February night when I complain about being cold.
The friend that sits up with me at 3.00am, after a night of full-on drinking and dancing, to help coach me through an impending job interview. A job that I got incidentally, mainly thanks to Lou’s help and encouragement, and that I love.
The friend that indulges my sudden and intense cupcake craving by driving me to the nearest quality cupcake selling establishment immediately and regaling me with her impeccable rapping skills for entertainment on the way.
The friend that has been known to send daily updates on the comedy chapters to be included in a book she instructed me to ghost write about her adventures (and misadventures). A potential chapter entitled ‘special muffs’ is perhaps the most appropriate one that I can share, so you can see it might be a book with an age restriction (though actually ‘special muffs’ are her girls, her closest friends, a title I am proud to count myself amongst).
The friend whose hand I felt reach for mine at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, to get a first hug and kiss of 2013, and a thank you for all the great times in 2012.
The friend who has been mine, and so many others’, biggest supporter in anything and everything I do.
From Lou I have learnt humility, wit, compassion, commitment, resilience. Some of my best dance moves. To laugh through the good times and the bad. That indecision is ok when you really don’t mind either way. That life is too short to pair socks. That pictures savour the best memories and create the best gifts. That it is far better to spend your time with those that are willing to make effort with you than waste it on those that don’t. To dream big and never stop trying. To woman up when things get tough. That you can blow up an airbed with a hair-dryer, but only on the cold setting. That Justin Bieber may be a questionable human being but his music is actually pretty contagious. That we can do anything when we put our minds to it. That DIY is not just a man’s job. That friendship and love truly does last forever.
And so much more besides.
My ‘friend that made me me’ has been one of my very best friends all of my life, but writing this to share with you today is very bitter sweet for me because my lovely friend, that has played such an important part in my life, is now with me only in spirit following a tragic car accident at the start of this year.
I only say this after explaining why Lou is the ‘friend that made me me’, not for dramatic effect, but because I wanted you to understand why she was such an amazing person. How she has shaped me as a person and has been such an integral part of my life, rather than focusing on her no longer being with us, in person. I wanted to share with you our story and some of my fond memories because I know that, even though she is not here with me in person, Lou will continue to be a ‘friend that makes me me’ for the rest of my life and she will continue to inspire me.
As soon as I find my way through the dark days of heartache at losing someone so special, I will make sure that I spend every single day ensuring that I do everything I can to make her proud. I will make sure that everything I do, I do with twice the enthusiasm and double the smiles because I will be doing it all for the both of us.