Twenty years ago, a tall, slightly shy, slightly awkward guy called Lawrence joined my team at the outdoor centre I worked at, as part of his gap year. He then ended up at the same university as me and had soon adopted me as his surrogate sister away from home. Quickly he also became my best friend, even though it became apparent how annoying, naughty, loud and loopy he could be. He was soon only known as Loz (unless I was telling him off). We went up mountains, dipped in lakes, played in the snow, pulled lots of silly faces, watched films, went on road trips, kayaked and sat up late in a filthy student kitchen watching Buffy. We argued (the only person I have ever argued with), he disapproved of my boyfriends, looked after me, and regularly played tricks on me. He helped me move into my house and his Mum and dogs de -stressed me when I needed to escape from a frustrating job. I danced around livings rooms with his sister to Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
And I wish now I could do so much more, I wish I had taken more photos of us. I wish we’d spent more time together. I wish I hadn’t taken him for granted that he’d always be there. Because ten years ago today, on a cold, icy December day, on a road near his home, he went to play in the mountains in the sky. I won’t ever forget getting that phone call late at night. Even now I sometimes forget and want to ring him, or I think I see him in the street.
So, now, as in the months and years after he left us, I try to live as he did and as he wanted me to. Wearing bright clothes, wearing skirts! Taking more photos. Swimming in lakes, even doing white water kayaking. Remembering the happy times, have fun. Last year I returned to the mountain where we scattered his ashes and he made my boyfriend prove his worth by sending us a foggy whiteout to navigate through. I’m still not going to drink Guinness though.
Rest in fun Loz, I hope you are playing in the snow, with endless mountains to climb and ski and freezing lakes to dip in. You are missed.