I have not yet had the courage to write a complete post about Ruth: for lots of different reasons, not wanting to upset people that may have known her and not known instances about her death, not wanting to share too much about me from a time where I was not that nice a person. Also though, because it still feels raw. It will always be raw. Anyone that has lost someone from their lives in an instant will know what I mean. There is no illness, no watching a body deplete, no time to question or fight, they are just there. And then they aren’t there. Death leaves us with enough guilt and questions as it is. Sudden death is really the cruellest way to leave anyone behind.I will never get over it. Never!
Ruth was absolutely everything that a best friend should be. She was vivacious and outgoing but, she was understanding and kind and she would give you every little bit of her if she loved you. I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of her love. We loved each other. Without limits.Never ever did we let each other down. Well, she let me down once and that was by dying.
God! She was so annoying when I first met her. She was a year younger than me but, her Mum was my riding instructor and the school dinner lady and her Uncle owned the primary school we both attended. She was always so smug they were ‘her’ horses and ‘her’ school and I thought she was a bit of a brat. By her own admission, she was actually! We did not have much to do with each other because we were in different years at school and of course, she was in a different league to me when it came to the riding. Usually, I would just clean some tack and then get shouted at because I had closed the wrong gate and all the ponies had escaped. Well, ok I only did that three times. I never was good at taking instructions.
I hated it really. I only went because my Mum had grown up in a stables and I wanted to make her proud of me. But, it was always cold and I had to wear too many pairs of socks which made my toes hurt. As I hated it so much, I only did it for about five years!!!! Anyway, not only was Ruth an amazing and accomplished horse rider but, she was also a hockey expert and general girl that you disliked just because you weren’t her. Oh, and she was blonde! Naturally blonde! When I left primary school, I did not have an actual friendship with her for nearly ten years. In those ten years, we had both done a lot of changing.
Apart from the jealousy and general annoyance, I did not know anything about Ruth in those early days. When I got to know her as we grew older, it was clear that her lifestyle had given her some ‘issues’ and she had turned against it and rebelled a little. Not majorly but, enough to be a lot wilder than you would have expected. As young adults we were both looking for love and attention for different reasons: it was this that made us absolutely perfect for each other! When I say I was not a nice person, I mean I was just angry (as you know!) I was not a slut in the true sense of the word but, I knew that I had a power with my sexuality and I used it to feel good. I needed to be reassured constantly and that I was special and if that meant making the most of it when it was obvious someone liked me, I did.
My childhood boyfriend, whom I completely walked over, had told me that being with me was like emotional mountaineering and he was completely correct. I was utterly blinkered by anger over my Mum and I spent a few years mistreating people who did not deserve it. I have made my peace with that now and been punished in some way in return. We all make mistakes but, I definitely did learn from them and that is as much as you can hope.
I was really bored with working in a phone shop. My Dad was dying and I had finished studying and at home with him, just the two of us. The emotional mountaineering with my boyfriend was over and I was single. I am sure my Dad was looking to get rid of me on occasion so that I would stop making lists of things for him to do. I did not want him to stagnate in his wheelchair. Little did he know, when I got my new job, I would just leave the lists for him to complete whilst I was out. I even left him with a tick box. Ordinarily he just ticked the box and nothing else.
Anyway! I had tonsillitis for the millionth time and I had spent my bedridden hours looking for a new job. I did not really know what I wanted to do but, administration seemed like a realistic option and particularly the job advert I had seen as it was a two minute walk from my house. It would work perfectly with caring for my Dad and being available too (usually to bring him cream cakes!) As I only had one previous job, it had not taken me long to perfect a CV. When they called me for an interview the next day because someone I knew worked there, I had no idea who that someone was. It was actually Ruth. She was the one who told them they should interview me and they did. I got the job! I actually still work there . My boss is also my Brother in law now but, that is a story for another occasion. I expect he still finds me irritating.
Ruth and I had absolutely the best time from then on. We spent every single day and pretty much every hour together, not just at work but, in our lunch hour and after work, mostly every day. Ironically, she loved driving and we would go everywhere and anywhere we wanted together. She did not really drink much either but, loved going to the pub so it really was the best of times for me who did like to drink. Even the time we had to hide from a man who chased us out the pub because he was interested in my ‘symmetrical face’! It was only so funny because she was the one that commanded most of the attention. We were like Abba and I was the dark haired one (a more acquired taste)! One lunch hour we decided to drive out far enough to the next postal code area so we could post our Valentine cards with an extra element of incognito. We were so clever!!
She had terrible taste in men though.
She was always being taking advantage of or screwed over but, that was because, like me, she was always looking for love and would do anything for anyone, without one hint of a question. As her friend, I was just there for her and she always bounced back quickly. She never was single for long as she was so very beautiful. There was always that ‘one’, like we all had, that treated her like dirt but, had a certain hold over her. The day she got rid of him once and for all was a revelation for her. We were always together for all of it, without judgement of each other. Naturally I just told her she was too good for most of the population.
Our relationship was really so special because she had no other friends that were girls. She was a real tom boy and although she was gorgeous and borrowed all my clothes, she was happy having fun with the lads and not worrying what she looked like. Even when I got engaged and settled down more, we did not spend any less time together. She was however, super worried about being my bridesmaid because she regretted some of her tattoos and felt self conscious in her dress.I really had to convince her to do it but, there was no way I could get married without her there. She held me up in so very many ways.
As we worked in such a small office then, the prospect of a day with no bosses was exciting to say the least. Particularly as there was no chance of them coming back, being that they had gone to a special party miles away and were staying over. We had already planned to ensure we did all our work early so we could enjoy the freedom of the Friday afternoon. For the purpose of my boss whom is still my boss, we had actually done all our work! We really had! Our day had certainly not started as planned though because we had had an argument, an argument about work and it was so stupid. We were both massively loyal to our job because we had our own family unit within it and she had felt that in this instant, I was doing something at work that she should have done.
We had sat in silence for three hours until I had to pass her a file. I decided to chuck it at her and call her a rude name. Her laugh broke the tension and were back to where we should have been for that afternoon; eating pasties, chair racing and talking about boys. She had a boyfriend who was treating her right and so she was happy but, the day was tinged with a little sadness and had made us pensive because of a recent local tragedy. A boy our age had driven his car off a cliff and his funeral happened to be that Friday. As the town’s main church was opposite our office, we got to watch all the comings and goings of the sad event. Ruth always told me everything that was on her mind; she was sad that someone so young could leave the world like that and that if it were her funeral, I would be the only girl there. Most importantly, if I found myself ever at her funeral, could I make sure that I had removed any sex toys before her Mum went into her house. I didn’t!!!
She wanted me to come home with her that night and continue our conversations so that we could come back to town later and party. Of course, I said I would. The 20 minute drive to her house would mean that we could have a cigarette and listen to music like we always did. However, following a call to my Dad, it was clear he was having a bad day and I knew I should go home to him and meet her later. ‘Love you squirrel’, she always said as we left each other. I never did know why she called me that. She walked off to her car and turned round and shouted ‘Love you squirrel’. She was wearing a purple top.’Love you too’. She didn’t call me about meeting her later so I thought she had probably gone to see her boyfriend. He had been at that funeral earlier. I would call her tomorrow. See her tomorrow. Spend time with her tomorrow.
It was the first of October 2004. She was 23. Tomorrow, 14 years have passed and my heart will always be broken. 20 missed calls on my phone that morning from her Mum. I was still wiping sleep from my eyes whilst I sat in front of my Dad who told me my Ruth was gone. Where has she gone? What’s happened to her? I’ll just call her. I was watching this happen to someone else, sat on the same sofa that my Dad had told me my Mum wasn’t coming home. But, it must be happening to someone else. Not me. Not her.
Her car was on the wrong side of the road. She had hit a car with a Mum and her two children. It was her fault and we all wanted it to be her fault. It would have been hard enough than to hold someone else responsible. Then, just like that, she just wasn’t here any more. There any more. In that instant, she was gone. I wasn’t with her, I was supposed to be with her. She was gone from my life, just like that. I did not get that tomorrow. Tomorrow will be hard again. Be grateful for every tomorrow you have. Love you squirrel. I’ll love you forever.