The value of old friends



These last few weeks I’ve had some wonderful times with old friends who’ve come to visit me.  My university friends, most of whom have known me since I was 17 (25 years ago….yikes!)  And then my friend, who I met in San Francisco, who came over from France with her husband.

I’ve always kind of confused nostalgia with reminiscing…but now I understand the difference.  Nostalgia has always been one of the most painful, deliciously poignant feelings for me.  And to be honest I try and avoid my personal nostalgia as it feels like it’s cutting me through the heart. (And if ever I need masochistically reminding of how it feels I just listen to Charles Aznavour singing La Bohème).  But I’ve decided reminiscing about your youth and younger days is probably one of the most fun things you can ever do. And that’s so different from and so much better than nostalgia.

I’ve not laughed so much or made my memory work so hard in ages, digging up memories or crazy times (breaking into the zoo at night, punting along the river playing opera on a ghetto blaster thinking we were all so cool, glamming up for a ball, celebrating birthdays at open air cinemas….).  And the joy of being in a group of people where every person remembers different things is fantastic.  They’re like magic mirrors reflecting treasured moments, and telling you things about yourself that you never knew of or appreciated at the time.


But then one of my friends told me she felt bad as she never calls and hardly emails.  But that she always thinks of me.  And I started thinking about how guilty we all make ourselves feel all the time, if we’re not always in touch with our old friends regularly.  And that invariably it’s the friends who live closest who get most of your attention and time and energy.

But I realized it doesn’t matter if we don’t call or email all the time.  The bonds of friendship we form, at whatever stage in our lives, if they are real and true, will last.  And it’s not about regular contact.  It’s about remembering why you love someone and never forgetting. And somehow when you get together it’s like it was only yesterday that you last saw them and it’s so easy and so special and so much fun.

I’m truly blessed to have good, old (long-term that is, as opposed to age!!) friends, many of whom are far away from me.  And I’m so lucky that many are coming to see me.  Weirdly I’m having the best time of my life, while I have death looming over me.  How strange is that?  And how beautiful!




  1. Ross Swinton · · Reply

    Louise, I missed you visiting the Thisle a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted to have an ‘in depth’ discussion with you. It would have been a bit intense and probably shocked and horrified anybody listening at the time. However, what I was wanting to talk to you about would have helped me understand the mindset of someone who has to live with the shadow of death hanging over them every day and who, like yourslf, choose to put it to one side and carry on regardless, I’ve had this discussion with quite a few Veterans and they’ve all said that when you’re living with the ‘Black Dog’ pacing around you all the time (Metaphorically) you tend to get attached to him and give him titbits; befriending him really. When that happens, and he brings his mate Karma along, she’s not as friendly as the ‘Black Dog’ and has a tendency to bite you on the ass. Personally, I’ve knocked on Death’s door a number of times and either they’ve not been at home or (more likely) they’ve been hiding behind the furniture hoping I’d go away; and for a long time now I’ve had a habit of doinf some incredibaly stupid and occasionally dangerous things, but never, in these times have thought ‘I could get killed here’ and if I did, I have the feeling I would be thather surprised that it happened. I suppose what I’m really saying is that I’ve got to the stage where I’ve courted Death for so long that I’ve become a bit blazé about it. I’ve even layed on a hospital trolly when I was just hours from popping my clogs, feeling so bad that I’ve thought to mysel ‘Y’know Ross, dying wouldn’t be all that bad right now’. I recovered that time with the knowledge that if it happened again, I had four days to do something or I’d be dead and strangely, knowing that it could only take four days for me to die gave me some sort of control. And that’s the thing, some of us Military people live with the knowlwdge that the next Op we go on is dangerous and could be ourlast; yet even living with that knowledge it is buried very deep and never realy thought about. And here’s the question, you’ve lived with this for a number of years that you could wake up to be told that you haven’t got long. When you got told did you crumble a bit, or did you say ‘ About time, now I can start to get my Sh*t in order’? When I got told i had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma a type of cancer I thought ,Wel i know I was gonna get something that was gonna kill me’ and started to plan my final period in the land of the living. When the Doc said it wasn’t Terminal I actually felt kinda disappointed for some obscure reason. I still know that I’m gonna get told I’ve gort something and it’s gonna kill me. But whether that happens before I do something stupid in wipe out first? … We’ll have to wait and see. I’m interested in what you feel about it, do you feel some sort of relief, are you scrabbling about getting things sorted out, is everything sorted out and you now have all the time in the world to let your OCD have free reign, lining all your stuff up to the egde of the table? Is this Blog your last great act of defience, if it is well done you! Just hope when it’s my turn I have the wherewithat to do the same. Just need to figure out how to use the ‘WordPress’ programme. I think you’ve started a trend here Louise and I for one am full prepared to carry on what you’ve started.

    Hope all I’ve said makes some sort of sense as I’m pretty baked at the moment with muscle relaxants and pain killers. So next time you’re gonna drop in to the Thistle, let me know, be good to see you again and perhaps we can have that discussion. LATERS – Ross.

  2. Louise Edwards · · Reply

    I absolutely love this blog. The bonds of friendship. They are very strong. And endure. I am always at a loss as to why my friends have such better recollections of our escapades than I do though. Probably alcohol based. Wishing you good times with your friends. I am sure you have many, many of them. One of them I think is Mike Coulter, who is one of my friends too, and told me how inspirational you are. Thinking of you. Lx

  3. This made perfect sense to me, and rung many bells.
    It’s so perfectly true.

    Thank you for putting so eloquently that which I was feeling.

  4. Claire D. · · Reply

    Hi Lou,
    What beautiful words and sentiments and what a mix of emotions it has unleashed in me. I’m shocked of course (only just heard the news, by old fashioned word of mouth), feeling deeply moved by your honesty, feeling priviledged for having worked with you in the past, and in the spirit of your blog, determined to give myself a right kick in the butt the next time I get engulfed in silly worries! You are a true inspiration… lapping up all the joy around you while the rest of us just occasionally notice a sunny day or a kind word on the bus… Thanks Claire d

  5. One of my treasured memories is of my friend Ruth coming over from America to meet my newly born son. Both of us knew it would be her last trip to the UK as she had cancer and had been told the news that she didn’t have long to live. The fact that she gave me some of that precious time still means the world to me. Thank you for sharing yourself with us and giving us some of your precious time.

  6. mags quilietti wood · · Reply

    hi louise i have met you a couple of time when i have presented the thistle with some funds from bobs little sister
    i have just read your story and may i say what a moving story it is,you are a inspiration to people

  7. chris green · · Reply

    My Dear Louise . It has been almost 30 years since we last met; yet in your photos I can still see the girl inside the inspirational woman you have become. I have some scanned photos of you in your early teens that you and you husband might enjoy seeing .. please email me if you like them and I will email them by return. They will not be as good as anything your grandad took of course!! Thinking of you with great fondness. Chris Green

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