March 12th is, as usual, the hardest day of the year for me. It was on this day fourteen years ago that I lost the greatest friend I could ever have wished for to a tragic road accident. There is not a single day that I don’t miss her dearly. She was my best friend, she was Kirsty Bartlett.
Kirsty – My First Friend
Kirsty was the first friend I made when I moved to Dorking in 1996. As my parents moved our belongings into our new house I went and sat on the swings in the park next door. I felt solemn and lonely. It was there a young girl boldly walked up to me and said “Do you want to be my friend?”. My answer prompted eight years of beautiful memories that I will treasure always.
From the ages of 9-16 we did all of the typical things that best friends do. We had countless sleepovers; almost always being awake when the sun came up (even on a school night!). Kirsty’s favourite thing to do during those nights was to watch horror films. I would sit with a cover pulled up over my head not wanting to watch but always compelled to when Kirsty called me out on being “chicken”. I remember one night whilst we were watching a horror film and we heard a noise outside. We armed ourself with blunt kitchen knives and crept around the house like MI5 agents. We opened the back door in a frenzy shouting “whose there?” but of course, there was nobody there. What a sight we must have been in our pyjamas!
With sleepovers come feasts and our midnight feasts were always epic! There would be crisps, chocolate and every kind of fizzy drink you can imagine (so it was no wonder we would be up all night!). We would hear her parents alarm in the morning and then decide it was probably time to go sleep!
Girl Guides and Spice Girls
During our younger years we went to Girl Guides together and going on guide camp was always fun! I remember us sneaking off each time the porta-loos needed emptying – It was definitely not a job for us! Another of my favourite memories is me rolling Kirsty down a hill and she ended up going through some cowpat. How I laughed! She got me right back with a bucket of water the next day though!
It was during this era that the Spice Girls were every girls idol and it was no exception for us. Me and Kirsty used to stand on her windowsill and sing our hearts out to a sell-out crowd of five! Kirsty was always Baby Spice, her beautiful blonde hair dictated that. Occasionally I could be seen asking Kirsty’s mum to give me a high ponytail and I would take on the role of Sporty but generally I was Ginger – having the trademark red hair helped decide that!
A Last Goodbye
I remember the last time I saw her. I was about to go on holiday to America for two weeks and she told me to bring her back a dolphin. We promised to catch up when I got back…
Kirsty was waiting to cross a road the evening of March 12th 2004 when a car stopped to let her. As she did a motorbike went around the car and hit her. My parents hadn’t wanted to spoil my holiday and I didn’t find out until I returned home. I remember my dad saying to me “I don’t know if this is true but somebody told your brother that Kirsty died”. I raced up the stairs infuriated and demanded to know who had told JP such rubbish. My Dad offered to take me to the scene to see the tributes and flowers. As I approached I saw a wooden cross with ‘Kirsty’ etched onto it and a framed photograph of her. My legs buckled and I remember burying my head into my dad’s chest, hyper-ventilating through masses of tears.
There was no question that the first thing I had to do was go to Kirsty’s house. Kirsty’s family were my family. They had always been there for me and now it was time for me to try and be there for them in whatever capacity I could be. It was an afternoon of tears and laughter as we reminisced and discussed what needed to be done.
I knew I wanted to pay tribute to Kirsty at the funeral and I spent days labouring over what would be my last goodbye. Kirsty’s funeral is still one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. She was so loved. I remember the church being so packed with people that many had to stand outside. She made her final journey in a beautiful white coffin and so many beautiful tributes were made. When it was my turn it was as if my throat had closed. I struggled to get my words out through an unrelenting onslaught of tears. At one point the vicar asked if I would like her to read my words but I was so determined to get them out that I persevered. I couldn’t not have one final goodbye.
The spot where Kirsty died is now a small memorial garden. I don’t tend to visit too often because it evokes too many emotions but I did go a few weeks ago. Time seems to stand still for me when I am there. I don’t know how long I sat and watched the world go by for as I had many conversations with Kirsty, (as I often do, and shed many tears. I miss my friend so very much.
It hurts when I think about all of the things Kirsty will never get to do. I often wonder what she would say to me in certain situations or what we would both be doing at a certain point in time. I take great comfort in the belief that she is always with me. She is looking down and guiding us all, shining her beautiful light down upon us. I have no doubt that she is the brightest and most beautiful star in the sky.
Kirsty was always there for me, no matter how trivial the situation. I remember the day I found out that my idols Boyzone were splitting up and I ran to her house in tears! When Princess Diana died she knocked on my door and I ran around to hers in my pyjamas. When my grandfather passed away I went straight to Kirsty’s. She was one of a kind. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend and I can never ever replace her.
The one thing I did promise myself was that I would do everything she wasn’t able to do in life with her in my heart. I think of Kirsty in almost every new scenario I take on and I wonder what she would say or do if she were here now. It is important to keep smiling and grabbing all that life has to offer because that is what she would want me to do and she inspires me everyday. I can picture her face so clearly now telling me to “stop being such a ‘Ming Ding’ and to go to sleep. So I am going to leave it there, but always, as ever, Kirsty – I love you! I miss you… Your never forgotten my beautiful friend!