I spent some time with a group of old friends and former colleagues recently. Some of these folk I’ve known for nearly 20 years. I hadn’t seen most of them for years.
These are the people I used to see most days. The people I worked with and socialised with. We shared early morning coffee and lunch. We drove the length and breadth of Northern Ireland, and beyond. We partied. We disagreed. We complained about work. We figured out how to make it better. We complained about something else. We supported each other. We disagreed some more. We partied some more. We spent lots of time looking for funding to do the work we felt needed done. We held each others’ hands and dried tears. Difficult decisions were made. Some of us moved on.
These were the people who gave me confidence in my skills, who taught me all I know about working with clients and about paperwork, the folk who introduced me to long term work subtleties and politics. The people who helped me to keep on going, putting one foot in front of the other, when my father died, when my marriage broke up, when I miscarried. The people who helped lift me, and who joined me in celebrating two weddings, and two fine healthy lumps of babies. We laughed a lot, at ourselves, at ridiculous tv programmes from the night before, at life. We gossiped and we cared.
Image from here
When we met this week we hugged, showed pictures of much grown children and caught up. It was exhausting, yet energising. It was tearful. We were there, former colleagues, some still working there, all still friends, to gather round and support one of our number. One of us has lost her much loved husband, after a brief, but long, battle with illness. We still haven’t found a magic wand, but we were there, helping her put one foot in front of the other. That’s what old friends do.