This week, I have been hit by a tidal wave of pure emotional shock, grief and frustration. My good friend, someone I’ve known for many a year has succumbed to Cancer’s almighty claw at the tender age of 23. Lydia was the kind of person that infused warmth and effervescence; she knew how to make people happy and frequently did. Her energy, sparkle and smile were all the qualities she needed for people to understand her. Even when we were communicating via email or text, an ‘x’ from her felt so much more symbolic than one character ever should. Like any normal strong friendship throughout the years, ours was one of ebbs and flows, with the ebbs that occurred on the (thankfully) very few occasions followed by an ebullient ride into happiness. What I’m trying to say here is that Lydia was a endearing, loveable person to be around and you always wanted to be in within her orbit. One of Lydia’s best qualities was that she was a comedienne of sorts because she had an uncanny ability to make the unhappier times we were together as friends in to a kind of comedic platform, changing those uncertain dates in to real tears of joy (my friends and I can testify to her hilarious recounting of her times working at a music festival complete with sidesplitting photographs and captions to help tell people the unforgettable stories). These bad times were few and far between and the only reason I reference these events is because Lydia’s enthusiasm for life shone through every time. I felt so fortunate that there were so many joyful, carefree memories to return to when slowly trying to digest the horrific news. There were times when I didn’t see Lydia for long periods of time, especially when she was experiencing the painful and intensely difficult bouts of chemotherapy towards the end. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that a reunion with her always felt doubly special, to the extent that you felt consumed by a luminous glee that could only be produced from those endorphins giving you that warm fuzzy feelings of comfort and security. Yes, she was a really special person. A person whose popularity was obvious, just recently, Lydia completed a charitable event which, upon reflection now, must have been even more painful to contemplate doing under her circumstances. Donations came in thick and fast because people couldn’t think of a better person to sponsor in helping to battle such a crippling disease… but then if you met Lydia, it wasn’t hard to see why.
The news of her sudden demise from an aggressive, invasive and entrenched form of cancer makes everything feel so unfair, so devastating, especially because Lydia really had so much more to offer to both friends and family, and her obvious creativity within photography and fashion. It also feels doubly devastating that the disease gained ownership of her body at such a vigorous rate. My personal feelings and emotions waver almost indefinitely as I try and picture whether she had any comfort or respite in those final few months. Luckily Lydia had friends and family who truly loved her and were there until the end. Still I can’t help looking over the last couple of months and trying to how my young friend could cope with such a crippling twist of fate, even if the result destroys me inside. Just reading over the final messages we had, about a meal in our hometown where she could ‘pig out with her gut out,’ I saw instantly how amazing it was that she could joke, deflect her own pain and make you worry about her less. She held her burden so bravely on those tender shoulders and writing this now, I can only marvel in awe of her valiant and inspirational spirit. It’s hard not to keep writing and reflecting on her legacy to my life because she gave to me some of the most enjoyable, satisfying memories of my teenage years. A generous, accommodating, wondrous light is how I would happily describe Lydia. She truly believed in living life and inspires me so much to lead from her indomitable example. I won’t be there to celebrate her life when that difficult day comes, much to my sorrow. I will however be delighted to know that many will, sharing the stories and memories of an amazing girl, whose flame will never be extinguished.
I’ll never forget the beautiful memories we shared Lydia and I’ll miss you eternally. But I firmly believe:
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again
Some sunny day
… and I look forward to it.
Lydia Page. 1988 – 2012. With love and affection.