My Mum told me something, yesterday, that had me with tears in my eyes, while talking to her on the phone, sitting in the light of a golden Sunset, in the middle of Wheatley – the village I moved to a few months ago.
One of my childhood friends, Mandy, died last weekend, at the far-too-young age of 41-years old.
She’d had a lot of health issues over the years, along the same lines as my oldest brother, Paul: chronic kidney disease, resulting in the need for dialysis, then a kidney transplant… and there are so many issues that result from this… it really is like the medical equivalent of spinning plates.
The thing is, Mandy had been through some tough times and had been very ill, but – doing quite well, of late, it seems – out of the blue, she had some internal bleeding and when surgeons operated on her, her aorta ruptured, and there was effectively nothing they could do to save her. (I’m not sure of the exact details, but my Mother told me this.)
I hadn’t spoken more than a few words to Mandy for more than 20 years, I guess, but she was such an important part of my childhood. She was three years older than me, and our families were so close, she was like a sister to me… back then.
It was a real shock to hear the news. It still seems impossible. I can only hope that (and I do feel that), after all her suffering, she’s in a better place… and her family will be reunited with her, at the right time.
The thing that really got me, yesterday – the day of her funeral – was my Mum telling me that she’d been across to see Mandy’s family a few days ago. She gave her mother and sister a hug.
Mandy’s father… who was always a reserved kind of guy and not the most tactile of people… gave my Mum a hug.
This was a surprise.
She told me on the phone that he’d ‘never been the hugging type’, and he said to her that, before last weekend, he hadn’t even hugged his own sister – in his whole life - but all that had changed, through their shared ordeal.
He said that he didn’t realise what he’d missed out on, until then.
Hugs are such a beautiful gift, in times of joy, sadness and overwhelming grief.
Don’t wait until it’s too late, and you wished you could hug them…
… and if you can’t hug them, pick up the phone and tell them you love them.
RIP Mandy – Corby Hill’s Steffi Graff, from my early memories.