Having an online diary is a mixed blessing. I feel I should have something interesting to say, but what is interesting to me could be total frozen boredom to someone else. Courtesy of Sitemeter (which by some miracle I managed to install) I discovered this morning that four people in America have been reading my blog! Four completely unattached people, one in Texas, one in California and two in Nebraska! (I suppose the two in Nebraska could be friends.) How did they find it? This is a mystery, because I often can't find it myself..
Last night a lovely dinner with friends made me realize, yet again, how important
friends are in my life. When the children were growing up, we had very little in the way of family. All four grandparents died within 2 years of each other, and as I was an 'elderly primagravida' when Son was born, I was even more elderly when Daughter came along 2 years later, which meant that the usual cousins and relations were that much older too. I only have 1 sister, and my ex had only one brother, so it was 'slim pickens' as far as family parties were concerned. I'm sure it's true these
days, when many of us have separate and distant actual families, that our friends become our families.
Most of my friends are also single women - though most of them have been married once or twice and do have children. I have about half a dozen real friends: the sort who would drop everything to help if I needed it. But I did actually manage to lose a friend a couple of years ago, and still don't know why. She was someone I had been close to for thirty-odd years, and she simply dropped off my map. I have, of course, tried to discover why she doesn't speak to me any more, but she isn't letting on. At first I was really worried about what I might have done to cause this, but after a year or so of trying to find out and sending cards, letters and messages, I decided that it was actually her problem, not mine. Very sad though, because we worked together, and had fun, in advertising for years. Our friendship had outlived our marriages. Our children had grown up and spent seaside holidays together and I know my children really thought of hers as family. We used to spend Christmasses together and lovely London weekends. We have so few real friends in our lives, so I regret this loss. But sadly, I can do nothing more about it.
Describing my friends isn't easy, because I know them so well. We've had our ups and downs, our divorces and affairs, our husbands and boyfriends. They are as familiar to me as a comfy old jumper, and when I talk to them on the phone, I have this image of them which doesn't really change. We know each others secrets (and we keep them). We make each other laugh. All I know is that without them my life would be sad. When one of them goes away and we can't talk every day, I miss them terribly.
The saddest thing of all is really losing friends - and this happened to me three times last year. Two old friends, from twenty or thirty years ago, died most unexpectedly. One had been a smoker all her life, and had also been very beautiful. She was blissfully married to a lovely man who had literally dropped dead a couple of years before. I don't think she ever got over his death, and I hope they're still holding hands somewhere. The second friend had been a shit-hot Fund Manager in the City of London until her husband got very ill. He had one of those dreadful wasting diseases and she nursed him for years. When I got the phone call from her daughter, I assumed that her father had finally died. But no. It was my dear friend, whose strength and stamina had finally given out. The third friend was a famous writer whom I had the great good fortune to meet on a holiday on Skyros 7 years ago. She was so talented, so funny, and such a lovely friend. We enjoyed cocktails and lots of laughs together on that holiday, and kept in touch. She discovered that she had ovarian cancer five years ago, and battled with it - refusing to give in - but in the end it got her.
Three lovely ladies,three wonderful friends, have left us. Richer for having known and loved them, but so much poorer without them.