Reflecting on a weekend filled with laughter, multicoloured shots, ridiculous dancing and great company, I am grateful for the bride-to-be, my oldest friend Becci.
In a world before hair straighteners or mobile phones, DVDs or social media, Becci and I were introduced as short-fringed, t-bar shoed two year olds, and she has been a key part of my life ever since.
Becci, you’ve been there for every defining moment in my life. We spent our entire blissful childhoods together, from that first day at nursery onwards: countless evenings playing at each other’s houses (how lucky for our parents that my brother and your sister also became best friends!), borrowing toys from week-to-week (I’m sorry I threw a tantrum when I wasn’t allowed to borrow the doll in the yellow dress; I realise now that it was probably a family heirloom and not a toy at all), to our first forays to the shops without our Mums (green hair mascara from the indoor market: why!!). When I was sick in the middle of BHS during a Christmas shopping trip, you ran for help – always the one looking after me, telling me not to worry. You’re always so calm and collected Becci, bringing me back down to earth.
Then on to those difficult teenage years – braces, spots, Year 7 Drama class; the crushing embarrassment of having to talk to a ‘popular’ boy. On your 13th birthday you decided to change Becky to Becci, and instantly earned a million cool points.
Navigating the questionable politics of a 14 year old friendship group (which you always did so well; never one to join in with the bitchiness, you’d always be much happier letting the rest of us get on with it), we travelled through senior school together. We auditioned for choir even though neither of us could sing for toffee (and got in, which says more about the standard of the choir than the standard of our singing), joined tennis club (you could play, I most certainly could not), sat next to each other in all our lessons.
I never really appreciated how lucky I was to have you there – somebody to walk beside me on that first terrifying day (having first taken pictures wearing our oversized blazers and scrunched down white socks, in my back garden or on your front drive), to sprint at breakneck speed with me to the dinner queue (or risk queuing for 30 minutes then having to ram down the last piece of old, dry chicken in the remaining 5 minutes of lunch break); to share in the fears and the excitement, the laughter and the tears. I was never alone.
We spent hot, balmy summer holidays with our families in France or Belgium or Holland, our parents enjoying friendships just as strong as ours. Daily barbecues (generally a competition between our fathers as to how quickly one could cremate a sausage or burger) to the soundtrack of In the Summertime; carefree days where the only stress was ensuring our room was tidier than Greg and Charlotte’s, or what to spend our Francs on in the local Carrefour.
As we grew older, moved on to college and then university, we took different directions (but not before a quick girl’s holiday to Magaluf first!): you in Cardiff and me in Reading. We didn’t see each other often – the here and now got in the way – but nothing ever changed. We’re too cemented into each other’s histories for anything to ever break that connection.
Throughout Mum’s illness you showered me with messages of support; we met up when we could, you never gave up hope. You hugged me so tightly at the funeral, I know you felt my grief as if it was your own. I felt your pain as you felt mine. Our mothers shared the same friendship we did.
You’re now a fully fledged ‘village person’, creating the perfect home for yourself and Andy; throwing yourself into life in a new community, making friends along the way as you always do. Your kind and caring nature shines through in all that you do; you’re always to willing to lend a hand, to do what you can and to be a friend to everyone.
It was no surprise that your friends this weekend were just as lovely as you – how could they not be?! You were surrounded with love because that’s how much you mean to all of us.
In a few short weeks, we’ll watch you walk down the aisle – and I’ll be so honoured to be there as your bridesmaid. Thank you Becci, for being such an important part of my life, for being there throughout the good and the bad: for teaching me to be kind, to see the good in everything and to (try and) calm the hell down! Thank you for helping me become the person I am today.
All my love,