The death of a dear friend

My close friend Tara Few died suddenly on the 11th August, from a heart attack.  She was 45.  She’s survived by her partner of 20 years, Simon, their 5 year old daughter, Eden, and her parents Jill and Pat and her brother Michael.

Her friendship was as fundamental to me as breathing.

I will be writing a lot more about Tara, but this is what I will be saying at her funeral on Friday:

It was October, 1987.  I was standing by the drinks table at a tutor’s party on my first day at University.  In the middle of the room, a striking woman in a dark blue jersey dress was surrounded.  The men were trying to impress her.  The women were trying to befriend her.  She seemed a bit unimpressed and was twisting a strand of long red hair around her index finger.  That, I thought, is a proper Cambridge undergraduate.  And my next thought was, I’ll never get to be friends with someone like that.

I was wrong. That day, a life-long friendship was born.  By the end of that evening, after much wine and coffee and another party, we had met a tall, hilarious person from Bolton. Rachel Watson completed our inseparable team and Few, Pugh and Watson has endured for twenty-six years.

In Tara, I found a friend who was kind, loyal, brave and honest, who applied her great intelligence and compassionate curiosity about people to all aspects of her life.  It is no exaggeration to say that she taught me how to be a friend – as well as how to dress a bit better.

And she was so mischievous and funny!  Here are just a couple of examples from that early time:

She was dismayed by the Adult Oriented Rock that graced one of our tutor’s shelves and decided he ‘must have some Madonna!’  So she planned – I’m not sure if she managed it – to slip ‘Like a Prayer’ into the rows and rows of Dire Straits and Toto records.

The summer of our graduation, our housemates found one morning that someone had ‘modified’ the pictures on their lovingly-updated World Cup 1990 wall-chart.  Diego Maradona, for example, now had Margaret Thatcher’s head.

My family remember Tara as bright and beautiful.  My sister – whom she coached – says that Tara helped her to better mental health and success in her professional life.

And me?  I, who do not trust easily, trusted her completely.  She was as steadily close to me as a sister, and my life is richer as a result of knowing her.

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