To my darling girl Vicky,
Today it is a whole year since you died. And it still doesn’t make any sense. A 31-year-old non-smoking victim of lung cancer.
I can’t help but feel like I should have done so much more in this year without you. Lived doubly hard. Done things for you that you never got to do. I’m forever reading about people who change laws in their friend’s memory. Or jump out of airplanes. Or shave their heads. Or go and, I don’t know, adopt five children (okay that’s rarer, but you know what I mean.)
I haven’t done anything like that. I haven’t done much actually. I hope you know that’s not because I’m not missing you dreadfully. And I hope it doesn’t make me a failure as a friend.
The one thing I have helped with is to raise almost £10,000 in your memory for Roy Castle. I know you’d be chuffed about that. The collection at your funeral (instead of flowers, as you requested) raised thousands, and loads of your friends and family then took on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. Me and the other Vicky, the third corner of our tight little triangle – your ‘Essex best friends’ as you liked to call us – did a Macmillan Coffee Morning that raised a chunk of that total too.
Well, I say coffee morning… We livened it up and had a cocktails and cake day. We drank a LOT of Bellinis. And people were so happy to make donations in your memory.
We’ve all posted the obligatory #nomakeupselfie on Facebook. And made the accompanying donation.
But that doesn’t seem enough to remember the girl that you were. Your lovely laughing Leeds self. The girl who refused to let cancer stop her living for years more than the doctors said you could. The girl who was always up for a bottle of wine and a gossip. And a dance. Especially if Bon Jovi was playing.
It’s not enough. But then I’m not sure what could ever be.
I imagine it’ll make you giggle to know I’ve taken to talking to random cats that cross my path. Writing it down, I’ve just realised how bonkers that actually sounds. But, I can’t see a cat without thinking of you. And Thomas. And Fat Cat (the feline with that bloody flatulence problem.) So I see one and smile and most times say hey.
It’s so strange that so much has changed but so little has really – apart from the Vicky-shaped hole in all our lives. I’m still drinking a little bit too much (I know you’d disagree, but then you are the girl who had me drinking shots of Sherry the first time I met you.) I still haven’t had the triplets we used say I’d have. We still haven’t bought that house by the seaside. And I still talk too much. About mostly nonsense.
But I like to think your real legacy to me is that you taught me to be a better friend to those in my life I love. Because you were the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I’m so sad I never really told you that. But we didn’t talk about you being ill, did we sweetheart? We concentrated on having as much fun as we could, while we still could. But I hope you know how much I love you.
Me and Vicky have carried on the Harvester-dinner-and-rather-a-few-bottles-of-wine tradition. We have a tendency to get even more emotional than we used to (but not louder!) Your absence is palpable and your no-nonsense advice lacking. Though we pour a glass for you, we do always end up drinking it for you too.
Your husband continues to be the amazing man he always has been. He remembered my birthday and sent a fabulous card (like you always did.) He’s been a tower of strength to everyone, caring for your memory in the same steadfast way he cared for you, until the very end.
But I’m still making a mess of things, and still missing you. We all are. And it blows my mind that 96 people A DAY are still dying from this disease. You battled so bravely darling girl, still giggling even when you were so poorly you had to be on oxygen constantly. But how many people are going to have to fight like you did, just to keep on breathing?
So I guess that’s what I wanted to say Vix. That, though you are gone, you are sooo not forgotten. That I’m trying, we’re all trying, in our own small, insignificant ways, to make sure your fight wasn’t fought in vain.
And that I love you. So much.
Forever your friend,
Never forgotten: www.justgiving.com/Vickyglen-Baker