My friend was dying in hospital. I’d been with her for the last few weeks of her life, had travelled for hours in the ambulance with her when her liver had started bleeding out. She had lived with terminal cancer for 5 years, having been told she had 18 months to live aged 28. I was with her on the day she first realised she was ill. Had dragged her out for a walk and said come on you lazy fucker when she was struggling to walk. I was with her on the day she was given her prognosis. We went to the cliffs overlooking the sea and laughed at what a cliche we had become, marvelling over the sunset at such a moment. There were so many good times in the years that followed. The parties, the celebrations, the milestones. There were so many harrowing moments. And there was so much denial. It felt to me, like none of us could really get our heads around it, just fumbling, grappling, not knowing quite what the fuck to do. The initial months were intense, the shock, the head shaving, the fundraising, the ‘we will fight this’. And then the liminal years that no one tells you about – no bucket lists, no swimming with dolphins. Just treatments and scans and tests and drug trials and depression and the waiting and the waiting. It didn’t look like the cancer we had seen before. The limbo, the not really living, not really dying. She never wanted to acknowledge that she was ‘dying’ or talk about it – even in her last weeks in the hospital as she lay, disappearing in front of our eyes. This was her right. So we laughed and bantered our way through. I can’t imagine how she must have felt inside or the courage it had taken to get through each day and night those last 5 years with all the fear. To me, it was so painful to not get the chance to speak of her dying, particularly in those last weeks. To not say the things I wanted to her, of what she meant and what she taught me that I still don’t really have words for. When the hospital staff upped her pain meds in the last days it was routine for them, but they never told us what it meant this one particular time – that she would no longer be able to communicate back. I still feel angry about that. The sudden shift into a different state she was never to return from. The last conversation I had with her we were laughing. The last time I spoke to her silent body I told her it was ok, she could let go, and she did. It is still a shock, the whole experience, and one I cannot get a hold of. I carried her coffin, her body inches away from me, I felt her weight and still my mind cannot grasp that she is dead.