It's been a quiet weekend.
Excuse the ladders in the background; my neighbour is having some work done on his house.
I'm a little thoughtful and melancholy, to tell you the truth.
I heard last week that an old friend has died. She killed herself. I'm really shocked and saddened.
I hadn't been in touch with her for over 20 years, so I don't know how justified it is to claim friendship.
We were friends, back in our university days, and some time beyond. I have photos from her 21st birthday party, and her wedding. There was a group of us who did the same degree course and had a wonderful time together. I've been looking back at my photos from that time, and they still make me smile.
I have very happy memories of a cheerful, bright, funny, warm young woman, who was eminently more grounded and sensible than many of us, myself included. She was good-hearted and good-humoured, and I remember her with huge fondness.
So what happens to make people drift apart? I really enjoyed her company, why didn't I make more effort to keep this woman's delightful presence in my life?
I suppose it happens to most of us; we meet people, become friends, like them very much, but the relationship somehow doesn't survive the changes of direction we take and the distances we travel, we become immersed in the here-and-now and don't have the time or energy to keep every friendship going.
I can't tell you how much I regret this now.
Having had a career in mental health, I know only too well the savage blows dealt by depression to a person's view of themselves, the world around them, and their future. I have no idea what external events or internal struggles occurred which led my friend to a place of such despair that suicide was the only solution she could find.
I also know what a terrible legacy suicide leaves behind. Any death is tragic and sad, especially of someone relatively young. But this death, this ending, is particularly hard to deal with for those who loved, supported, tried to help, but feel they failed. The guilt adds extra pain to the sense of loss and grief.
I'm sorry if the outfit photos seem incongruous, but it's a formula, I suppose, the structure on which to hang this post.
Don't feel you have to comment on the clothes; it can be so awkward, can't it, trying to make a thoughtful response to a post about something serious, then feeling the need to say nice boots...
Life is full of such incongruity, significant events butt up against the everyday, the world has changed yet it carries on regardless.
In my little world, this news has made me feel great sadness and regret. I can only imagine how these emotions are multiplied for my friend's family and loved ones.
It has also been a catalyst for renewed communication between some of the old gang. I'm hoping we might be in more regular contact now, and perhaps get together sometime.
We'll raise a glass to absent friends, I'm sure.