My friend Jamie died on 2nd June 2010 in Cumbria. His life was taken away from him at the age of 23. He was happy, he had made a life for himself. Decent job, fiancée, a nice place to live.
I heard the news when I was visiting my sister after work that day. Her boyfriend was Jamie's best friend, he'd received a phone call from one of Jamie's many best friends. I had to leave at that point, and with the guilt of not seeing Jamie since I was about 17. We, my sister, her boyfriend and our friends, all used to hang out together in the city, buying alcohol underage, going to rock gigs, living life as teens should. I can't remember a dull moment with these people, and that's one of the many things that I miss.
Jamie's funeral came round. At first, I was uninvited. His fiancée organised it and I assume I was simply forgotten. I had decided in my own mind anyway that I would mourn in my own way, as I always had, and say goodbye in my own time, on my own.
A week or so passed and my sister expressed her disagreement with my method of mourning. She told me I would regret not going to Jamie's funeral, I expressed that I wasn't invited.
Somehow I was eventually persuaded to turn up, although I was never officially invited, it felt incredibly awkward and I wanted to run from it. I was also advised that I should come alone. I knew most people there, but sat away from them next to my mum. I felt isolated.
Mum tried to hug me while we sat in the service, I pulled away. This upset her, it upset me, I felt very alone, and as you do feel when saying goodbye to all the memories of somebody you used to smile and be happy with, the pain in my heart was too much to bear. I struggled to breathe, trying to cry quietly so as to not annoy anyone.
The question has always come back to me, why I was never invited. I feel like I was forgotten because I wasn't part of the most recent group of friends. His fiancée had only met me a few times. Maybe she disliked me, but I find it hard to understand why anyone thinks that is a good reason to disallow someone from saying goodbye, to force them away and rob them of that chance.
I had to tell one of my best friends over the phone the day it happened. She tried to stop believing it over the phone, I couldn't say the words without disbelieving it myself. She said she would call me back, the phone line went dead, and I didn't hear from her until the day of the funeral.
I saw her a few weeks ago in the pub, I assume she had been there a few hours already as she did that thing a lot of drunk people do, spoke loudly and slurry and turned emotionally revealed.
She apologised for never phoning me back that day. I told her not to be so silly, there was no need to apologise. There was nothing I could have said, had she phoned back, that could have made the situation, or the pain, any better. None of us would sleep that night.
After two years of thinking back, remembering, I wish I knew Jamie towards the end. But I'm so glad the memories I have of him are all good. Everyone is smiling, the colours so vibrant you wouldn't imagine, the real memories of life as we used to cherish it will stay with me for as long as I am alive.
So the fact that I was uninvited makes me a little bitter even now, I was glad I had the chance to say goodbye, but what right does someone else have to uninvite you?