Home My Journey Abi : A Tribute To My Beautiful High School Friend 🌹

Abi : A Tribute To My Beautiful High School Friend 🌹

by InvisiblyMe

I should have written this tribute sooner, but I didn’t have the words before and I still don’t now. Nothing will be enough to convey how heartbreaking the loss is or how wonderful she truly was. Abi was one of my closest friends in high school and while we followed each other on social media and sent the odd messages in the years since, we weren’t close anymore. Life gets in the way, as they say, even though I wish I didn’t. In August 2023, she passed away after four years of living with stage 4 lung cancer. She died on my birthday, not that I could ever forget the date, not that I would want to. She was only 35.

Abi was funny, intelligent, compassionate, curious, enthusiastic and kind. She was a wife, sister, daughter, friend, Clinical Scientist. She was colourful, passionate, keen to be happy and to see the positives in life. She was everything you’d want for a person in your life, one of those rare gems you know you’re lucky to have known.

Since school, she’d moved to go to University, she met a boy and fell in love, she continued studying and graduated more than once. She went on to become a Clinical Scientist for the NHS, she got married. She enjoyed life at home, work and with friends. Through those years, she would have touched countless lives and brought a little much-needed brightness to the world. I’m not sure if she’d smile or roll her eyes at the cliches, but I hope she’d also know how true everything I’m saying is and how much I sincerely mean it. 

You’ve Got A Friend In Me

I’d gone through a few years of turmoil at school with bullying and then my mental health took a nosedive as a result, and it’s easy to think that’s all there was in my teen years, alongside a lot of shyness and social anxiety. But that’s not true, because Abi became my friend. We had a couple of other close friends in our small circle, if you like, and that friendship meant everything.

Since living with chronic illness, both my short and long term memory has taken a hit. It’s usually just disconcerting to look back and find I can’t remember events someone is talking about, or to find months or years of blank space and cobwebs. But now I find it so very sad, because I want to remember more than I can about those days back then. 

I do remember a few things :

  • Abi’s smile and laugh, which I hope to never, ever forget.

  • Our shared love (read: obsession) with Lord Of The Rings. The time we tried to learn Elvish by looking it up online, back in the day of dial up Internet. The time we attempted to make Elven bread by also looking that up online and being dismayed at the disgusting ingredients we needed to get from the shop to make it. Needless to say, it was revolting! 

  • I had a navy zip up hooded cardigan when I was younger, maybe 8-10 years old, that my mum got me from C&A (anyone remember them?) One day when we met up, Abi came wearing the exact same one – hers still fitted her too! I’ve still got mine and still wear it at home.

  • She also loved scarves and while I’ve got a lot of them myself, one is the oldest and most cherished: A colourful knit scarf that Abi bought me.

  • I remember her intelligence, the classes we shared, the times we’d sit on the playing field at lunchtime, the way we talked about (and stalked) boys we liked. The times we’d go clothes shopping. The parties at a friend’s house, dancing to cheesy music, us drinking vodka from the bottle and sitting on the floor crying, before getting back up to keep dancing.

  • The way we’d do little horns with our hands on top of our heads, which seemed so normal at the time.

  • The way we called each other Stenchygail and Smellygail, but I can’t remember why!

  • The last time I can remember was when another friend and I went up to see Abi at University. We met some of her new friends, had food, went to dance at a club and stayed in her Uni halls for the night. I knew she was on a path to achieve, not just academically but to succeed in life, to find happiness. I think I had a gut feeling right then that we’d probably part ways and I know I got home after that day both very happy and very sad. 
A photo of Caz and Abi hugging on the playing field for the last day of High School, while wearing their signed school shirts.
Left to right: Myself & Abi on the last day of High School wearing our signed shirts.

I wish we had more photos from those day but back then (and yes, I realise I sound old) most of us only had disposable point-and-shoot cameras that we bought for special occasions. There weren’t cheap digital cameras and iPhones around, unlike today where we can photograph anything and everything all the time. We had to be selective but it was always exciting to go to the chemist to get the film developed, to see what came out.

We followed each other on social media and I took heart in seeing her updates, seeing her living a good life with a wonderful husband and friends around her, getting more post graduate degrees and getting into a fantastic career, going on walks, pottering around her garden. I thought things were good and I felt good to know that. But I was both right and wrong in thinking it.

She was making the most of everything she could, but I didn’t know that for the last 4 years she had been living with cancer.

She reached out to me a couple of weeks before she passed, the day she went into hospice. She sent me the most beautiful message and for a while I thought it must be a mistake, someone must have hacked into her account, it must be a phishing scam, it can’t be true. We shared a few messages on WhatsApp to catch up but then I didn’t hear back from her. I’d hoped she was busy doing things with those she loved and I told myself that’s what it was. Then I had a message from her husband. Abi had peacefully passed away on my birthday, surrounded by family. 

Mourning An Old Friend

I cried so much I didn’t think I’d stop, which happened when she messaged me, when he husband told me the news, and again when I watched the funeral service before anyone had even sat down, and at random times in between. It’s amazing a human has such capacity for so many tears and so much snot.

I felt guilty for it, because who am I to be so upset when I wasn’t even in her life in recent years? I would have traded places with Abi in a heartbeat. She had a life and a future to live for. In many respects I don’t, and I find it horrifically unfair that it wasn’t the other way around. 

Abi would never see it like that of course. I don’t know how she got through these last few years, but by all accounts she got on with her diagnosis the same way she had lived the years before: with great courage, enthusiasm and grace. 

I desperately wanted to see Abi again. I was never sure if those I was such good friends with would even remember me. I was mostly quite quiet, very shy, pretty boring. People went their own way and got on with their lives, and mine stalled with illness and surgeries. I understood that and while sad about it, I can’t fault people for moving on. But I never stopped caring about my old friends, never stopped hoping we could all meet up again. 

A photo of Abi smiling as she stands next to the caterpillar from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Abi with a very hungry Caterpillar friend.

I felt it wasn’t my place to attend the funeral as a long-ago high school friend, and I had a feeling – which proved to be right – that I wouldn’t be able to keep my shit together. I don’t know how her husband is managing with this but he’s taking inspiration from how Abi lived to remember the good times, to keep moving forward. He put together a beautiful service and there’s a wonderful tribute online for her, where they’re raising money for the hospice she stayed in at the end. 

I think the Queen was right in saying that grief is the price we pay for love. The more the love, the more the grief. And I hope all those who knew her – her husband, her family, her friends – can hold onto the memories to get them through such difficult times and to truly feel enriched and blessed from having known her.

The Fragility Of Life

Abi was fit and led a healthy life. She walked a lot, she ate well, and she was only just starting her 30s when diagnosed. And no, she never smoked. She still got sick. She still lost her life to lung cancer.

There’s a lot of animosity towards those who smoke, much as there is towards those with other unhealthy habits and lifestyles, from the overweight to the inactive. It’s good to do what you can to better your health and wellness as it makes you feel better mentally and physically day to day, but it’s no guarantee. There’s no promise of health in life. 

There are many reasons why someone may develop an acute or chronic illness or disability. Unhealthy lifestyles can be a cause or contributor, but so too can all the things we can’t control : Genetics, medical negligence, accidents, random ‘bad luck’. That’s life. It’s beautiful and it’s terribly, awfully cruel sometimes.

There have been five people I knew, now six, who have died in the last 12 months, including a woman I worked closely with, online friends, an old neighbour. Each of these people meant something, each of them had ramifications in the world for just being who they were.

Perhaps all we can do is make the most of what we can, while we can, without judgement, without guilt, without regret, because there are no guarantees and there is no way of predicting what the future holds. 

If ever you have any concerns about your health – something isn’t quite right and you’ve got a gut feeling or you’re just not sure – please endeavour to fight for your health. If a doctor brushes you off, persevere and ask for a second opinion. Your health and your life are worth fighting for and you are your own best advocate.

♥ ♥ ♥

I don’t want sympathies for me, I don’t want them & that’s not my intention with this tribute. But I wanted and needed to write it, and if anyone would like to kindly send some good thoughts and wishes to her family and friends, I’m sure that’d be much appreciated. 

You were so very loved and you made the world around you that much brighter with your presence.

Rest in peace, Abi 🌹

A black background with a photo surrounded by daisy cartoons. Underneath is the title: Abi, a tribute to my high school friend. The photo shows Caz and Abi hugging on the playing field for the last day of High School, while wearing their signed school shirts.
A black scroll divider.

Caz  ♥

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Jeanne September 13, 2023 - 5:03 pm

I’m so very sorry to hear about Abi’s illness and your loss. I also wonder if her doctors tried Hydroxychloroquine, which is the best (also inexpensive, so many times physicians don’t seem to use it) treatment for lung issues that I’m aware of…. Personally, I’ve used it for asthma for years, and trust it more than aspirin.

InvisiblyMe September 13, 2023 - 5:28 pm

Thank you, Jeanne. I can’t say as I’ve sadly no idea but I wouldn’t imagine so. Hydroxychloroquine isn’t optioned for many things in the UK, including for cancers. I used it for a few years for autoimmune issues but it didn’t do anything for me whatsoever, nor did it help my lungs (damage and bronchiectasis). I’m glad you’ve found it useful for you and I hope you can continue to benefit from it. After all the years with such incredible scientific and technological advancements, I would have hoped the outlook for many cancer patients would be better than it still seems to be today.x

Janet Gogerty September 13, 2023 - 5:39 pm

We don’t need to have known Abi to feel so sad and angry at the unfairness, she was younger than all my children are now. It was lovely that she reached out to you.

Terri, Olive Tree Saints September 13, 2023 - 7:48 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss Caz. Abi sounds like a wonderful person, and I’m sure you two were a wonderful support system for each other during those difficult high school years. Sending gentle hugs your way.

Liz September 13, 2023 - 8:04 pm

A lovely tribute to your best friend.

Life can be so cruel and this is one example where someone so young is taken away too soon. Xx

George September 13, 2023 - 10:12 pm

Very nice, Caz. I am sorry. Sometimes we lose contact with friends, but nonetheless they are still friends.

Michelle September 13, 2023 - 10:20 pm

Sending you a big virtual hug, Caz. It’s heartbreaking to lose someone so young. You wrote a beautiful tribute to Abi.

Nancy Homlitas September 13, 2023 - 10:45 pm

You said you didn’t have the words to write a worthy tribute for your friend Abi, but you did a wonderful job!. How fortunate you two were to have connected in high school-a time when you both sorely needed a friend. Friends are forever regardless of the miles or frequency of conversation. Take care of yourself, Caz.

Jay September 14, 2023 - 12:48 am

I’m so sorry for your loss, Caz! Abi was clearly a beautiful person inside and out, and this world is poorer without her. Sending you a tight hug. Take care of yourself! <3

Barbara McLullich September 14, 2023 - 8:33 am

Sorry for your loss Caz xxx

Despite Pain September 14, 2023 - 12:46 pm

Beautiful tribute, Caz. You’re right, there are no adequate words, but you did well to convey your thoughts. Abi sounds like she was one of life’s gems and the world will be a sadder place without her. I hope that looking back on memories can somehow help you, her family and other friends. Grief is always difficult, but even more so when the person we have lost is so young.

Oh, life is just so unfair at times.

Alyssa September 14, 2023 - 1:16 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. The loss of someone we care about is difficult, and a constant struggle. When I lost my grandfather, who passed away from cancer, I tried viewing it as a blessing because he did not have to suffer anymore. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. You are in my thoughts and again, I am so sorry for your loss.

InvisiblyMe September 20, 2023 - 11:06 am

I’m sorry you lost your grandfather from cancer. It boggles my mind with our modern-day developments how cases are going up and still so many instances aren’t curable. It’s terribly sad. I think your way of viewing it, that it’s a kindness to be out of suffering, is bittersweet but perhaps the best way to see it. Thank you for such a lovely comment. Sending lots of love and hugs your way 💜 xxxx

Kymber Hawke September 14, 2023 - 3:13 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss, dear Caz. xoxo This is a beautiful tribute to Abi. 🤍🌺

Back Garden Naturalist September 14, 2023 - 6:43 pm

Losing a dear friend is heart-breaking & my thoughts are with you & Abi’s family – a beautiful tribute Caz, thank you for sharing her life x

Ann Coleman September 14, 2023 - 11:00 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss! Even though you hadn’t been as close recently, she was still a very important person in your life and her death is a profound loss for you. Your tribute to your friend was just beautiful!

Greg Dennison September 15, 2023 - 3:15 am

I’m so sorry for your loss 🙁

Mykie September 16, 2023 - 12:42 am

Awww, Caz, I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. It’s such a natural thing to grow apart, but always hurts that much more when our chances to see and hear from old friends is gone. It seems like it’s always the best of the best we lose too soon. It can take a long time for the hurt to fade and the memories to feel less bittersweet, but I have no doubt Abi knows how much she meant to you. I don’t know how I would have survived school with friends like Abi myself and my heart goes out to you. Sending you gentle hugs and lots of love.

Michele Anderson September 16, 2023 - 1:35 am

I’m so sorry for your loss, Caz. So very sad. The picture is adorable of the two of you. It makes me think of my granddaughters now in their last year of high school. Those beautiful young faces just starting out in life. Life is so fragile, and all we have is the moments to treasure.

Vijay September 16, 2023 - 1:18 pm

Hi Caz,

It’s very saddening to hear of the loss of your friend Abi. I can only imagine how much pain you must feel in your heart. But as I learned from this wonderful tribute, she lived a happy and fulfilling life, and she helped make the world a more beautiful place. Always treasure the special memories you both made together.

All the best,

fabricthatmademe September 17, 2023 - 9:05 pm

What a sweet tribute to your friend. Thank you for sharing.💛

The Oceanside Animals September 22, 2023 - 3:24 pm

Charlee: “We are very sorry to hear about your friend Abi.”
Lulu: “Our Dada knows a couple of young people who also have Stage 4 cancer of various types, and our old blog friend who had Greyhounds died of cancer not long ago.”
Chaplin: “And of course our beloved brother Dennis the Vizsla had bone cancer. So suffice to say we are not fans of the disease.”
Oona: “Oona sends lots of purrs your way! And so do the other cats!”
Java Bean: “And we dogs send lots of tail wags.”

James Viscosi September 22, 2023 - 3:41 pm

Very sorry to hear about your friend. 🙁 You really do never know … When I was in the hospital after “The Event” my friend said to me that he told his friend, “I can’t believe this happened to Jim. He’s the healthiest person I know. Doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink much, eats right, exercises.” And I said, “I know, right? Screw it. Pizza for dinner every night from now on.”

InvisiblyMe September 24, 2023 - 5:38 pm

We’ve got cancer in our family and I can understand it having some genetic elements but that’s not always the case. And as you proved, various conditions and ‘events’ happen to the seemingly healthiest of people. Those who do everything ‘right’ can still get sick, can still die of things that are often reserved for those with ‘unhealthy lifestyles’ and habits. So much of it is potluck. A lot more than the healthcare industry seems to let on. And it shows the unfairness of life as well as the impermanent, fragile nature of it.

Enjoy your pizza, you most certainly earned it! xx

Blanca September 22, 2023 - 7:14 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s loss, she was so young… This is a beautiful tribute post you’ve written for her. I just hope theres a turning point in cancer investigation and many lives can be saved.

Carolyn Page September 24, 2023 - 12:55 pm

It is so horrible, Caz, when we lose someone with whom we had a connection. Sometimes, as you with your friend, we don’t even have their company often, or ever. But, there is a connection with some people that goes beyond the norm. It seems this was your connection with Abi.
In time you will, hopefully, remember and smile.

Christy B September 25, 2023 - 11:33 pm

I’m so sorry to hear of the loss at such a young age of this giving woman who had a huge heart and helped many. Your tribute is beautiful, Caz.

da-AL October 17, 2023 - 5:36 am

my heartfelt condolences to you, my dear – yes, yes, yes to your, “I think the Queen was right in saying that grief is the price we pay for love. The more the love, the more the grief. And I hope all those who knew her – her husband, her family, her friends – can hold onto the memories to get them through such difficult times and to truly feel enriched and blessed from having known her.”

and the longer we’re lucky enough to live, the more this is true. back in 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and terrified of how few my days might be. a wise stranger reminded me that worry is horrible in how it keeps us from enjoying the days that we are so fortunate as to be alive. she cited how a friend of hers was terrified of dying soon, then found herself outliving beloved people in her family who succumbed to freak accidents & the like…

we are lucky to be on this planet with you, Caz <3

B October 17, 2023 - 11:55 am

Oh Caz, I feel you. So sorry for your loss.

Dawn Pisturino October 31, 2023 - 2:23 pm

So sorry for your loss!


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