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Death is always that unexpected earthquake in your life, regardless of the loved one you lose, whether a darling spouse, a much loved child, a dearly held sister, a devoted mother, or that wonderful Auntie you always had fun with. It shatters the foundations of your soul and leaves a ragged and gaping hole in your life and a pain in the centre of your being that leaves you unable to breathe or comprehend what has happened, while at the same time, you still wait for that special person to walk in the door and flash their smile at you once more, or pick up the phone to send a text, or call, only to put it down again when the realisation hits you that she is gone. teenage bridesmaid dresses

To lose that person who was the lynch-pin of the family dynamic is a tragedy for any family. When death comes with little warning, taking away someone in the prime of their lives, that tragedy is compounded by the overwhelming grief and disbelief that this awful event has come into your home and into your heart.

Today, as two old friends, Isobel Maclean and I visited the family home where that crushing, raw grief had made its bed.

We went to remember our darling friend Annie, the one who made up our triumvirate of trouble. We went to remember her as she was, the most sensible one of the three of us, who nevertheless was at the heart of our schooldays, our teenage years, our youth, who was an integral part of the story of our friendship.

We sat and laughed over memories of sleepovers and shenanigans, of good times and high jinks (like the time she persuaded me that the nightclub we were going to on a Friday night was holding a fancy dress party - and I turned up in full Little Bo Peep costume, complete with stuffed lamb and shepherd’s crook only to find everyone else in their usual weekend night out attire).

We sat and remembered the nights we spent in each other’s houses learning how to apply makeup, listening to music, discussing boys, and doing what friends do.

We went to remember the girl who stood beside me as my chief bridesmaid the day I got married.

We went to remember the woman she became; a wife and mother who was the heart of her home and for whom nothing was more important than family; those closest to her and those in her large family circle.

We went to remember the woman who took everything in her stride, who was a natural nurturer, who cared in so many ways for so many people yet never once bragged about it or used it as a means on Social Media to gain attention to herself, she just got on with the business of loving and caring and being that one person you knew could be relied on, as a wife and mother, as a sister, a daughter, an aunt, and yes, as a very much loved friend.

Life has a habit of moving on relentlessly and as each of us married, and set of down our own paths of building a home, a marriage, a family and all that goes with it, we naturally drifted along different roads. That in no way lessened our love for each other. My chief regret is saying recently at the funeral of another friend that we had to make more time for each other and get together more often in happier circumstances, little knowing what lay ahead.

The manner of her passing was tragic and so cruelly unexpected. We all prayed for a miracle these few awful days, hoping against all hope that she would show her unique spark of life, but this was not to be the case. To all her family, our love and our shared grief surrounds you at this time. Our poor words of comfort are meaningless in the face of such a loss, but our hearts join you in your sorrow today, tomorrow and for all the days to come, especially on Tuesday when you finally lay her to rest.

Maybe, in hindsight, we did get a miracle. Maybe the miracle was that we were given the gift of Annie in our lives in the first place.

Rest in peace, Annie I. You will always be a part of the story of our lives.