A fist full of regrets - R.I.P. Helen

Getting out of bed this morning was the hardest thing.

My friend Rosie called me to tell me my old friend Helen had passed away. She was 39. My heart goes out to her long-time boyfriend and her family. After I got the call I just wanted to lay in bed until the world came to an end. I couldn't even cry at first, I was too shocked.

Helen and I used to be best friends for about 10 years up until 2009. We were the best of friends despite living 150 miles apart. When we did see each other we'd have really fun weekends together. We went to gigs and festivals together and we had matching Bagpuss bags :) We were both rock chicks who liked a drink and a good night out. I was with Helen the night I met J. Helen and her fella came down from Birmingham to help us move house. Twice. J got on really well with Helen's fella K. They were like peas in a pod, so much we called them 'pea pod mates'. We were a happy little foursome.

We fell out in August of 2009 and never reconciled. It was over - surprise surprise - me shooting my mouth off without thinking about it first. Of course now I feel I should've done more to make amends. I know I should have. I re-read the emails I sent at the time by way of apology, and I can see why she no longer wanted to be friends with me.

I've come to the conclusion that despite my best efforts, I'm not a very nice person.

At the time I thought I was making a perfectly reasonable apology, but reading back on our emails I was consumed by anger, ego and pride. No wonder Helen didn't want to be friends with me any more!! What I needed to do was take some time away to think instead of typing before I engaged my brain, something which I've been reminded of as a weakness of mine again just this very weekend.

It's something I REALLY need to address.

I reached out to Helen again after my second ectopic pregnancy. Selfishly, I needed my friend. She responded a few times, but I could tell her heart wasn't in it, but who could blame her when I made such an arse of my apology? When J and I decided to get married, I told Helen and said I'd like her and her boyfriend to be there if she could find a way in her heart. We emailed a few more times after that and it just fizzled out. We last emailed in February last year. I should have bloody phoned her. I should have got over myself. I should have sent her a bloody invite to the wedding! Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

When you are hurting, it's easy to think 'Oh, it's her loss!' and other such bitter things, but really, I was angry at her for 'rejecting' me. I should have reached past that and tried to make amends instead of focussing on my own feelings. But instead, I chose to forget all the good memories to protect myself from missing her and put everything in a little box. That said, I always wanted us to be friends again. I thought we had 30+ years of life left and we'd just grow back together.

To leave all this aside and say 'Oh well, it doesn't matter now, it's too late in this case' is a waste of a precious lesson and if I gain nothing else from this horrible, awful, tragic thing it is a reminder that sometimes you just have to look past yourself and your own feelings. You have to try to put that aside and see it from the other person's side. I was caught up on feeling like I was doing 'more' to make amends with Helen than she was with me, and I gave up trying because of my stupid, pig-headed pride and fear of further rejection. Had I the chance to turn back time, I'd turn up on her doorstep in Birmingham and beg her to forgive me for being a giant arsewipe.

I can't believe I will never see Helen again or hear her voice. I don't know if I have any video footage of her, or a voice recording, and suddenly it's of the utmost importance. I will spend the next few days rooting through my enormous collection of photo albums to see if I can scan them all into the pc, clean them all up digitally and get copies printed for her boyfriend.

I have learned the hard way. Once someone has died you will never get to say the sorry you should've said from the start. You'll never get to hug that person again, or hear their laughter. All you are left with is a fistful of regrets and the memories you collected. Don't make the same mistakes as me, please.

So what was Helen like?

She had a great sense of fun. She was from oop North. She was always the last one to bed and the first one up in the morning. I didn't know how she did it! She loved long haired rock gods, particularly of the 80s variety. Her favourite band was Whitesnake. She loved band shirts and slogan t-shirts and had the biggest collection of them I've ever seen. If I asked her - as girls do - what she was planning to wear on any given night out the answer would often be 'Jeans and a shirt!' with a shrug of the shoulders, and we'd both laugh. She loved collecting DVDs of films and TV series, and she loved her vampire type shows like Buffy, and Angel. She got me into Supernatural. She loved memorabilia, she was always collecting cool stuff. She was an amazing gift-giver. She was the kind of person who would think 'Leah likes make up. I know, I'll buy her a load of MAC!' She was so generous. She had an awesome giggle. She liked a drink, as did I back then. When I had my first ectopic pregnancy, she got a week off work at zero notice and came 150 miles to look after me. That was the kind of person she was.

I'm not going to pretend being Helen's friend was always easy. It wasn't. We had our ups and downs and our moments when we drove each other barmy, but we always got over our disagreements. Until last time.

And now, to my eternal regret, my friend who I always hoped would 'come round' is dead. I hope it was quick, and painless, because I can't stand to think of her being in any pain. I hope it was over before she knew it and is in a better place, hanging out with Pete Steele and all the other rock dudes who've passed on. Please - if there's a friend you need to patch things up with, do it now. Forget who was right and who was wrong, just do it. Don't live a life of regret like I will now.

R.I.P. Helen. I forgot I loved you for a while, but I always did. Rest in peace chica and I hope to see you again one day.
This photo is my laptop screensaver