We moved into a flat together some time after moving back to London, after university. We needed a third person and Rach had met this girl Holly doing a chalet season in Colorado. It was a gamble, I hadn't met her yet. "You'll love her," said Rach. I did, right away. She's the kind of person people fall in love with instantly, pretty, funny, warm & charismatic. The first night we moved in I was chatting to her with a glass of wine in my hand, I gestured and the wine flew out of the glass right up the white bedroom wall. She said she knew after that that we'd get along.
We grew up together in that flat, fledgling grownups, went out in Brixton, had silly times, attempted to have sophisticated dinner parties, supported each other through job losses and breakups. Between them they taught me how to drink. And when we'd come back late and drunk, she'd do interpretative Pan's People dances around the living room for me, her serious expression and ridiculous moves making me crease up with laughter on the floor. I loved her sense of humour, her down to earth quality despite quite a posh upbringing, the way she could talk to anyone and charm anyone.
She met Carlos at a barbecue we had, he went off to play rugby in New Zealand for 10 months but we knew they'd get back together because they were so meant for each other. When they got married, it was the most rocking wedding, and she looked like a 1940s film star. They had two gorgeous girls and moved to Brighton, and she started to get excited about the possibility of opening up her own cafe (being a passionate foodie - though disappointed when she finally made it onto Masterchef "They did their best to try and make you cry on camera...") Only there was this pain in her back that wouldn't go away. Eventually it was her osteopath that insisted that something must be wrong, something that the GPs had missed. By the time she was sent for tests, it was too late, she had cancer all over. She hung on for three years in pain. One of the last times I saw her, we went to the Beachdown festival in Brighton. She couldn't drink anymore but hash helped with the pain, so we all had hash cookies, just like old times. We all got the giggles. She was on good form. I'm so glad we had that couple of days.
Holly died yesterday. I can't believe I'm never going to hear her voice again. I keep hearing her, not saying anything very profound, just funny phrases that are typical of her, like "Born in a barn?" Or if I was ever in a stroppy mood she'd go "Touchy touchy, moody moody..." and it would make me smile. I know it was a release. But someone so young, so lovely, so beautiful and kind... my mind keeps spinning around and around the idea that she has gone.