Am I crying because its expected?
or do I really feel this grief?
How can they think they know how im feeling?
when they dont know whats underneath.
Its strange the way you think you know someone –
but then you barely know them at all,
We shared so much we knew each other well
…but that was all so long ago.
we grew up and then we grew apart
I should’ve kept much more in touch!
There’s surely something more I could’ve done
I guess I didnt care enough…
I didnt know you were in hospital –
I havent seen you now for years.
I dont want to see you like this now,
a wooden cask obscured by tears.
Tamsin Luke was my best friend in school; juniors and seniors – she liked to spell her name Tamsyn even though that isn’t how it went on her birth certificate; kids are funny like that.
I ran away from home when I was about 9 or so, I had just had a fight with my brother (another one) and mum had sent us both to bed; grounded.
I was indignant because HE started it, and it meant I couldn’t watch the film we’d been promised that was on TV… some science fiction thing (even then I liked that kind of stuff)
After sulking in my room and feeling much abused and hard done by I decided I’d had enough – a neighbour, Dianne, had come round to visit mum and I could hear them talking and laughing.
I put my trainers on (the pink ones with the velcro fastening) and stood on my bed looking out of my bedroom window, Ricky McCormick who was my age and lived dead opposite had told me about his cousins jumping out of their window when they’d been grounded, I decided I could do it too. I managed to lower myself onto the porch.. The whole time I was glancing around nervously expecting to be seen and grassed on, but for once the road was clear – it was an incredibly sunny day – the kind you hear about now but think of as a figment of your imagination (in manchester anyhow) and suddenly the drop looked too far, I tried to climb back up into my room but couldn’t.
I was stuck.
All I could think of was the trouble I’d be in if I was found like this, so steeling myself, I jumped, trying to aim for the grass and hoping the curtains were still closed in the front room to shield the TV from the sun, my luck on that front held, was not so good on the other though – I landed awkwardly and cried out in pain then curled in a ball hoping no-one had seen or heard me..
I then limped across the main road (forbidden territory) to my best friends house.
After lying convincingly to Maureen (Tamsyns mum) that my mum had walked me just up to the bollards separating her estate from the main road (you could just see their drive from there) Tamsyn and I went into the den to watch the film my brother had stopped me from seeing (at least that’s how my mind saw it) afterwards we went out to our secret hidey and I told Tam everything and said I was never going back – we made a plan, I was going to stay for tea then when everyone had gone to bed, I’d be let into the house by Tam and she’d sneak me into their loft – it was a converted one that we had spent many an afternoon playing games and talking about nothing in – as well as reading the books we sneaked from her older brothers room (my older cousin, Lorraine, was in the same year as him and when she babysat for us we’d tease her unmercifully claiming she fancied him…)
About 2 hours later I was starting to feel guilty and decided I wanted to go home and try to sneak back into the house before mum noticed I’d gone.
We crossed the road again – I was still limping and in great pain when I saw Edna and Dianne (our next door neighbours) walking towards us, we hid behind a car and snuck around the back so they wouldn’t see us, sadly Edna caught sight of me and shouted, Tamsyn hid and Edna grabbed me and shook me all the while shouting that my “poor mother was worried sick and what did I think I’d been doing” etc. etc. etc.
By this point the whole neighbourhood knew I’d been found (it turned out mum had decided that we could watch the film after all, she’d gone to tell Richard who’d cried himself to sleep then when she came to get me, found my room empty and the window wide open, the entire neighbourhood had turned out to comb the area for me – no one thought I’d be brave enough to cross the busy main road) I remember being dragged up to my room being soundly beaten and put to bed.
I shouted through the door that she’d always hated me and buried my head under my pillows and then cried myself to sleep. I was taken to the Doctors the next day because my foot had swollen to about 3 times its natural size, I had a hairline fracture right the way across. It still bothers me now in cold weather.
For weeks after that I avoided Tamsyn – I still don’t know why, shame possibly – she finally cornered me and asked if I was upset with her for being caught, we made friends and did everything together again for a while.
Sadly we lost touch when we were at college – unforgivably through a boy.
She’d always fancied my first boyfriend and never tried to hide this from me – I always felt she liked him more than I did but it hurt that he used to call her a slag and all sorts – I have this habit of worshipping my closest friends and it was hard being in the middle..
Anyway – long story short, he and I split up, he asked her out. my mum took great offense to this and basically made it so uncomfortable for Tamsyn that she stopped coming round and I stopped going round to hers.
She went off the rails and left Daventry when they split up, a few years later I moved to Manchester.
I was living with my dad and attending college (performing arts) Mum called me up when I got home from a rehearsal… Dad had already warned me she’d rang 3 times previously so I was prepared to deal with her, (at the time I had many ‘issues’) what I wasn’t prepared for was the blunt “Vicky – Tamsyns dead” I got when I answered the phone. apparently all the blood drained from my face and I dropped the receiver as I sank to the floor, praying I hadn’t heard her correctly…
I managed to get myself together enough to pick the phone up again – Eileen (my step-mum) had jumped up to try and catch me as I fell and she was making all kinds of sympathetic noises while my mum explained that Tamsyn had come home after the new years eve drinking session and had felt ill so had taken paracetamol, she took some more when she got up because she hadn’t felt any better – then got rushed to hospital when she collapsed. apparently it was liver failure.
I went back to Daventry for the funeral – I think dad paid the fare for me, and I was just disgusted that my mum planned to accompany me there – In my irrational state of mind, I felt that Tamsyn and I had lost touch in the first place because of the way ‘mommy dearest’ had treated her.
Anyway, we get there – I’m wracked with grief just like everyone else, We stayed a bit back from the family and watched the coffin buried… as Maureen walked past she saw me and stopped to give me a big hug, we both started crying and she begged me to go back to the house for a private family wake. I said goodbye to my friends and joined everyone at the Luke house, only to discover I was literally the only non family member there.
Maureen took me upstairs to show me Tams room, on the wall by the bed, just underneath the hundred or so photographs she had pinned to the wall was a scrap of paper I’d completely forgotten about – in my handwriting was the date, the place, and the words
“this should be worth a fortune when I’m famous… for my bestest friend Tamsyn Luke”
and I’d even signed it… she wanted me to know that Tam did still think of me as a friend despite the whole Steve fiasco.
We had a cry and a laugh, reminisced about all kinds of things – the abortive running away from home for one… then we went back downstairs, where I was treated by everyone as though I were a member of the family and it dawned on me just how much of my childhood had been spent with them, I’d even gone on visits to the branch in Cannock – they all remembered me and we spent time reminding each other of various exploits… I didn’t want to go home.
In true Luke family tradition the wake became a party – much drunken singing – many tears but almost equal amounts of laughter… everything seemed changed when I got back to Manchester.
I hadn’t seen Tamsyn for the best part of 2 years, but I missed her – so badly, I still do now sometimes… it sounds stupid but I sometimes write her letters and I talk to her, like we used to – I especially missed her when I split up with Ian; he was a little like Steve; only in looks but that was enough to remind me of her and the things we missed out on sharing.
This is a kind of re-post as I’ve preciously mentioned Tamsyn and shared that poem but this is the full story as I remember it; warts and all.
Still miss you Tam.