I hate the word.
Cancer cancer cancer.
Writing this has been extremely difficult. To get the thousands of soul-destroying emotions onto paper hasn't been easy. However, I feel it's time. My best friend, Naomi suffered from Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. It has now been two and a half years since she died. I don't really like to use the word "died" but I feel that it fits, as that is truly how I feel. Dead inside.
I would love to be able to write a touching article about how I feel my friend is at peace now, and not in pain anymore. However, truth to be told, I miss her and can't bear the thought that her life was cut short, at only 18.
These past two years have been a turbulent one for me, with Naomi's death catalyzing a lot of issues for me, resulting in many emotional problems for me coming into full fruition. Until now, I have completely blocked the whole memory of her death out., refused to speak about it with anyone. Shamefully, I have told people over and over again at how 'relaxed' I am with her passing away, and how 'I know she is in a better place now.' I'm sad to say but I have fooled a lot of people around me. I thought writing might help with bringing my feelings to surface.
Going back to the day of 19 July 2013, it was all slightly a blur.
I was sitting by the pool on a girl's holiday to Barcelona when my friends phone rang. It was on the deckchair near me and the screen read 'Lizzie's mum.' Immediately concerned as to why my mum would think to phone my friend, I picked it up. My mum didn't realize that it was me, rather than my friend Issy speaking and all I heard were the words "died" and "Naomi", somewhere in the blurry sentence.
I hung up straight away. I convinced myself that it must have been my frail grandmother, who has died. I told myself over and over again that she was 90 years old and its only natural that people pass on in old age. I had locked myself in the toilet until this point when I decided to look at my phone. Up came the first message from a girl who was at school with us saying, "I feel sick with the news. This can't be true." Messages were soon flooding in, with people sending love and telling me that they are thinking of me.
Within a couple of hours, I was on a flight back home. I would love to write about the next couple of days but I can't remember much of it. Every second flowed into the next. I just smiled at people and acted like the brave best friend who was strong throughout this difficult time, always ready to comfort others.
At the funeral, all I remember is comforting others telling them it will be all right. Even when I saw her coffin, innocently placed in the hall before burial, I ensured I kept a straight face. I would never allow myself to cry. Going with Jewish tradition, there are evening prayer services for the week following. I spoke at one of them alongside another friend of Naomi's. Of course, I refused to allow the true essence of the words that I was saying have any true meaning. I refused to allow the notion of Naomi dying come anywhere close to my thoughts.
I realize I haven't yet spoken about Naomi. It's hard to constrict her bubbling personality into the width of an A4 side of paper. It doesn't seem right. Growing up, I often found it hard to make friends, I never seemed to find that 'perfect' best friend every girl dreams of. Until I met Naomi... She was kind, loving and always got us in fits of hysterics. I really felt like my life was complete. We barely ever exchanged unfriendly words, we seemed to just agree on everything, whether that be the clothes we chose on our shopping sprees or the music we listened to on the way to school.
Losing her has been like losing a part of me. Many mornings, I check my phone in the hope that she has messaged me over night and all of this has been a terrible nightmare. She protected me from a lot of the pain which she was going through. A big part of me wishes she hadn't., as she suddenly disappeared from my life without me truly seeing the extent of her illness. I wish I had grabbed her and allowed ourselves to just sob it out.
Another part of me is angry.
Angry with her illness.
Angry that so many others survive and Naomi wasn't able to.
Angry when I see other girls with their best friends, and I feel I should be out with mine.
Angry that this all happened.
Unfortunately, I guess there are a lot of things I 'wish' I could have done or have left me feeling angry and vulnerable.
The main one being I wish I had just said goodbye to her.
I could go on for pages and pages about our friendship. I wouldn't want to bore anyone with details of the sisterly relationship we shared. All I can say was, it was special and I feel honoured to have been able to be friends with a girl as admirable and courageous as Naomi.
I'm happy I have written this as I feel it is a big weight off my shoulders. I am thankful I had the time I did with her. I will treasure every memory we made. For now, I have to live my life as Naomi would have loved to live hers.
Naomi will always be in my thoughts daily and although she won't be there for major milestones such as my wedding or starting a family, I always know that she is watching and smiling...