My aunt doesn’t read this blog but she knows everything that I write on it because her best friend Diane calls her and reads each post verbatim. Diane has been this blog’s biggest supporter from as soon as I started it in 2012. She leaves comments telling me how wonderful she thinks it is, and how proud my Mum would be. Her cheerleading has aways made me smile.
But Diane won’t be reading this post over the phone. I went to her funeral this week and said goodbye to one of the kindest women I’ve ever known. She was the sort of person who always said the kind thoughts that were on her mind, paying attention to those around her and saying, with genuine feeling: “You look beautiful”, “You’re lovely”, “I think you’re wonderful”. Everyone at the funeral had stories of Diane’s kindness. She spread love wherever she went, and it made me think about how often we don’t say the things we feel.
Bloggers often talk about their “real readers” being the ones they don’t know, but blogs are also about writing for the people we do know, keeping us in touch with loved ones from afar. I’ve always been surprised, and touched, when I return home from a long trip to find that friends, and even friends of friends, seem to know what I’ve been up to. Most of them (you?) never comment, but I find you’re reading there silently in the sidelines. I’m also often a silent reader so I appreciate the reasons behind that. This isn’t a post about asking people to comment on Bridges and Balloons (!); it’s about me remembering to say thank you to you.
Because I don’t think I said enough thank yous to Diane. I wish I’d sent birthday cards or even postcards to say hello. Her support meant a huge amount to me and I’m not sure she knew how much. Whenever it’s too late, there are always things I wish I had done. I learnt that when my Dad died when I was 17, and again when my Mum and Nan died six years ago. Regret is futile, but you can transform it into good by acting on its lessons.
I sometimes write notes to my friends’ parents to say thank you for creating such amazing human beings. I try to say compliments whenever they arise, and send messages to say hello. But I’m also terrible with birthdays; I have messages I haven’t replied to for months; and friends I’m losing touch with. It’s hard to keep up with everything, and undoubtedly new regrets are starting to pile.
Some people would say I need to cut down on the number of people in my life; just concentrate on those that are closest. It’s true that I do perhaps need to pay more attention to my nearest and dearest, but I won’t be cutting people out. After 32 years of life and a lot of moving about, I have friends who mean a lot to me all over the world. To say thank you to many of them would just involve a short note – a hello, thinking of you, remember this? – and for others, it means setting up reminders of important dates, and remembering to send a note. It’s a lot about creating habits. It takes effort, but it’s worth it.
So today, I’m starting here. Thank you to every single one of you for reading this blog. Whether we’re related, friends, or have never met at all, your support in reading this blog means so much. It always shocks me to see how many people read each post. I still struggle with thinking the whole thing’s indulgent, so thank you for proving me wrong.
And finally, thank you Diane. This blog has lost its biggest fan and the world has lost a beautiful soul. Rest in peace and fly free.