RIP My friend Martin Burns

It’s a little after 3am. I’m sleeping in the cabin in the garden with my two youngest. I can’t get comfy and eventually give up restlessly turning from side to side and flick on my phone. In that moment, in the strange blue light, the world becomes a little less substantial:

Me: “You OK?”

Lucy: “Martin has died”

My sleep-addled brain can’t really take it in. It is – in the words of one of Martin’s favourite movies – inconceivable.

Inconceivable, because Martin and Lucy have only been my friends for a few short years. That kind of deep, easy friendship that accepts you just as you are, straight away. A kind of friendship that is rare to find. So rare that you never want to let it go. Especially not now. Not yet.

A friendship founded in those first moments of meeting, when I was so excited by Martin’s badge – a Dr Who style space background with “Feminist Killjoy” emblazoned on it in huge text – that he smiled, unhooked it from his jumper and insisted that I have it.

A friendship that invites you into their home, to stay the weekend, just so you can go to their party and have a “quick escape room” if you need it. With zero fuss. Like you are some long-accepted family member. And you don’t even need to ask the following year, because it’s just kind of assumed that you’ll be there.

A friendship that saves you a rainbow lanyard in case they run out, and always states their pronouns to help normalize it for others.

A friendship where you play games together, play instruments together (in my case badly), feed kids together, fold washing together, and delight in finding connecting links. Like the wonderful, quirky, neuro-divergent families we both have. Or sometimes just sit. Not needing to talk at all.

A friendship where you can state your point, and know it will be respectfully listened to and fully considered, even if you don’t always agree.

A friendship you can cry in front of without shame or awkwardness when you go and drop donations off at the homelessness centre and the man says they will be grateful for the plastic combs that cost you 20p.

A friendship with a man so wholehearted, so kind and so generous that you just want to squidge him. All the time.

And now here I am wishing I had better spent every single drop.

Farewell my wonderful friend.

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