A year ago today my cousin and I were walking along the seafront when I received numerous missed calls from my high school friend. It was odd. So I attempted to ring back. After a lot of phone tag, and a really bad reception I was told the news that Harriet Ward had collapsed whilst at the cinema and was dead. Dead.
So, I then took the initiative, something you just have to do, to pass on the news. I knew that the friend that had rang me was one of the first to know in my circle of friends as she had received the news from someone who knew one of the paramedics who had been 'on the scene'. I had to ring my best friend. I had to tell her that our Harriet had gone.
I remember sitting on the sea wall watching the people walking by with my cousin beside me, who herself was facing the one year anniversary of her Mum's death, as I listened to the dial tone. I think I remained calm, I wasn't crying if I remember rightly, but was firm and prepared. I calmly asked my friend if she had received any news that day, her negative response led me to tell her exactly what I'd been told about Harriet.
I have only one regret from making that phone call: I didn't check before telling her if she was on her own. Since the age of eighteen I've received five phone calls from my Mum regarding the death of close relatives: my Grandparents, my Aunt and another for my Uncle. If I remember rightly I had always been with someone at the time, plus they were all 'expected'. But this time. Harriet. Our 28-year-old friend, who's birthday I'd forgotten that year, who was a lady-that-lunched...she wasn't supposed to die yet but she did.
Thankfully my best friend was with her Mum as I heard her voice in the background asking what was up. You too would have asked what was up if you had heard the sound of someone's heart breaking. That sound, the sheer devastation, the cry of unbelief, is something I would pay a lot of money to avoid hearing ever again.
A year later I find myself in a very different place to where I was a year ago. My world has got a lot bigger, wider, more. For one thing I moved into a flat by myself and I completed my Masters (although the result is still unknown). I've also managed to go to America visiting Denver and New York, but more importantly to me, Chicago. Harriet visited Chicago in 2011, and it was because of her trip that I decided to go and stay with a friend there to check it out.
It's strange that I put such an emphasis on that city as Harriet loved New York more. In fact it's Alicia Keys song 'New York' that resonates the most with many of friends today when speaking of Harriet as she visited the Big Apple more than once. However, the photo of Harriet standing in front of the Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, Chicago, has become my 'go-to' image of Harriet. I really don't know why: it's not the best photo ever taken nor is it one that Harriet chose as a profile pic on Facebook. Either way, as I look ahead to my blank canvas of a future, where even the country I'll be living in from September 2015 is a question mark, this photo of "our Harriet" will definitely be staying with me :-)