True friend­ship NEVER DIES...

Grow­ing up, Laeti­tia Ruther­ford and best friend Emily were in­sep­a­ra­ble. Then just be­fore Emily’s 19th birth­day, tragedy struck. In this mov­ing ac­count, Laeti­tia ex­plains why their spe­cial bond lives on

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - BODY & SOUL -

can’t imag­ine be­ing sep­a­rated from the ones you love. Emily and I were in floods of tears when we said good­bye to go to dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties. She was off to Bris­tol, while I had a place at Ox­ford. I started a re­la­tion­ship with a man seven years older than me, who lived in Brighton and had a flashy life­style work­ing among techie en­trepreneurs. He adored me. I loved him too, but he wanted to mo­nop­o­lise me and I found it suf­fo­cat­ing. I didn’t want ro­mance to eclipse friend­ship. I missed Emily.

One Satur­day night, I was on the phone ar­gu­ing with him. I was telling him, ‘Don’t come and see me. I need some space.’ We rowed for ages, go­ing round in cir­cles, with no room for com­pro­mise. It was one of the few nights I was with­out him and free to party with my house­mates, but they had all gone out and it was get­ting later and later. I re­ally wanted to call Emily, to wish each other good things be­fore we went out on our sep­a­rate Satur­day nights, to pat­ter on about our out­fits and who she was in love with now, like we used to at home. Our times to­gether were the most care­free I’d ever had. Now, my evening was turn­ing into a disas­ter. I wanted noth­ing more than to be arm in arm with my buddy Emily. I couldn’t call her, I re­solved, as then the whole night would be shot. But it didn’t mat­ter, be­cause it was her birth­day the fol­low­ing week. I’d speak to her then and we’d have a proper catch-up.

The next morn­ing I was wo­ken by a bang­ing on the front door. It was one of our mu­tual school­friends, Elisa, also a half-Span­ish girl and the source of my sup­pressed jeal­ousy in her claim to some­thing so im­por­tant in com­mon with Emily. Her face was blotchy and swollen from crying. She told me the news and crum­pled on my shoul­der. ‘Emily’s dead. She died in a car crash last night.’

That Satur­day night, Emily had been trav­el­ling in a car with a friend on her way to a party. They weren’t wear­ing seat­belts. It wasn’t en­forced in the way it is now; you could take them or leave them, as we as­sumed we could with most things then. The driver started to pick up speed and swerved on the road. It was dif­fi­cult to talk about the de­tails with our friends af­ter­wards, and with her mother and sis­ters. I can’t re­mem­ber now how much of it was re­ported and to what ex­tent I’ve in­vented those fi­nal mo­ments as they kept re­con­struct­ing them­selves in my head. The driver was drunk, and I could hear and feel the danger­ous thrill of Satur­day night ap­proach­ing; Emily laugh­ing, then scream­ing.

Some of what fol­lowed is a blank, the key mo­ments oblit­er­at­ing the more nor­mal ones from my mem­o­ries, and from my con­cerns at the time. Sum­mer ex­ams? What to wear, what to eat? My boyfriend? Things didn’t make sense any more.

A year or two later, at the me­mo­rial ser­vice at our old school church, I stood and said a poem I’d made up about Emily. Af­ter­wards a group of us drove to our friend Cassie’s house and the gar­den Emily and I had danced in on Cassie’s 18th. We planted a tree for Emily. She had al­ways been as bright as the sun to me, and we hung a carv­ing of a sun around the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.