This is a post I wasn’t sure whether to write, but I personally DO write when there’s something I need to say, and that’s the point. Five years ago today, I lost one of my best friends, Faye Josephine Ogden. Only, I didn’t ‘lose’ her, she died, at just 20 years old. When she was a bit younger, it started as Ovarian cancer, and things seemed to look up after she bravely had all of her treatment. Sadly, the cancer then spread very suddenly after we thought she was in remission, and it attacked all of her organs. One part of me can’t believe it’s been so long, but the other part feels like so much has changed. I’m going to tell you Faye’s story, and how mine has changed forever since her passing.
Faye Josephine Ogden, January 29th 1990 – March 24th 2010
Faye was so much more than her cancer; it didn’t define her, and I want everyone to understand that. I met Faye when I was just four years old, when we started at Neston Primary School. She only lived down the road from me, so we became ‘Forever Friends’. I think we actually used to give each other Forever Friends cards on our birthdays, as most little girls did in those days, I suppose.
I’m the tiny one, Faye is the blonde!
We had a great childhood – obviously, I can’t speak for Faye, but I knew her mum and dad, and brother Lee, because I would sometimes play at Faye’s house, and she’d play at mine.
My diary from 1998, she came to my birthday. She’s on the left in the blue dress. I’m second from right in the puffy one!
Now, I won’t for a second pretend that these trips and hangouts always went smoothly (again, we were little girls!), but there are two particularly funny incidents which occurred during these play dates.
I used to have a small trampoline in my garden. It was nothing like the kids have these days – instead, it was a teeny tiny thing. I also had an umbrella, and incidentally, it was a little blue one with Forever Friends printed on it! Now, somewhere along the course of the day, we had a bit of an argument, and one of us jumped on the other one’s head accidentally while she was laying under the trampoline, so the other attacked her perpetrator with the umbrella. Yes, it ended in tears, and Faye’s mummy had to be called. Neither of us were in the good books that day!
The other (rather more hilarious, and less insane) incident where we fell out involved a sleepover at Faye’s house. There were a few of us, and we watched a film. I can’t remember which one now, but I remember Faye teasing me that I had a crush on the little boy who played the lead. I was so embarrassed that I stormed out, and I lost my Polly Pocket on the way. Oh, to be young!
Possibly not the same sleepover, I think this was instead at my house. There were so many! Faye is the one pulling a face in the middle on the far right. I took the picture.
Other than those incidents, I can honestly say that there was never a reason to dislike Faye! We used to play a game called ‘open-shut-open-shut’ with our curtains, which is how we’d communicate at night, long before text (we could see each others’ bedroom windows!).
We went to separate high schools, so sadly lost touch a little, but by the time MySpace and Facebook rolled around, we were back in touch. We each attended one another’s 18th birthday parties, and we’d often head into town together in our late teens. I remember all the funny drunken taxi rides, the heartbreaking drunken conversations about Faye’s cancer and things like her having to freeze her eggs, and the amazing nights we’d all spend, just living like normal teenage girls.
LR: Louise, Faye, Me, Ellie at a rock club in Liverpool called the Krazyhouse, 2008.
Faye was really into her music, just like me, so we had a lot in common. She loved her travel, her partying, and she loved her fiance, Sam. Like me, she had (and still has, to this day!), a very supportive family, and a great network of friends. She is so missed, and we were blessed to know her. We called her Fairy Faye.
I wasn’t the closest person to Faye, by any means. That honor went to Louise, my oldest friend in the world, who I’ve known since I was six months old. However, Faye was somebody I’d spend a lot of time with, at a point in my life where I guess I was starting to go off the rails a little, and we went back years and years.
I was in the job centre when I found out. The news came so out of the blue. I was perpetually addicted to screens even back in 2010, so as I waited to sign on, after quitting university just a few months before, I read an old school friend’s status that simply read ‘RIP Faye’. I froze. I read the comments. As I did so, I think I spaced out, because it became overwhelmingly clear exactly what had happened. I don’t remember how I got there, but the next memory I have is of me, dropping my car keys in the parking lot and crying hysterically as somebody guided me back into the centre. I’ll give the people in there their credit. The other unemployed people offered their support, and the centre said they’d pay me without a meeting, so I could go home. I promise you, I wouldn’t care if I didn’t see a penny that day, all I wanted to do was get out of there.
Faye is on the left of the teacher’s knee, directly in front of me, sat on the left of the teacher!
See, the thing is, Faye was an inspiration. I don’t mean it as a cliche, it’s true. It’s not just her strength and resilience she showed throughout the cancer – it was her drive, and her passion. People often remark on how driven I am. Where do you think I got it from? Faye may have passed away shortly after turning twenty, but she lived a packed life. I won’t say full – because it wasn’t, I mean SHE WAS 20 – but she did more than many could ever hope. She lived in Australia for a year. She traveled the UK raising money for charity. She never, ever gave up on her spirit, no matter how hard things got. It isn’t fair that she left us and she didn’t deserve it. She was too young, with too much potential.
Faye’s funeral was as bright and fun as she was.
Faye’s on the right! I’m not in this one.
We all had to come dressed in either beach themed clothes, or rave gear, because these are two things she loved. Nobody wore black – apart from her family, most of the attendees were under 25. This was a celebration of life. It wasn’t religious, it was more of a humanist thing. I remember wearing rave paint, a tutu, and tights that were turquoise and pink. In my hair, I wore colored extensions. On the way to the funeral, the band Funeral For A Friend came on shuffle in my car. I left it on – it was a weirdly ironic thing, but I saw it as a sign. Like I say, she loved her music. After the moving memorial service, where we laughed and cried, and heard funny stories, sang songs from the Lion King and listened to her poetry, we carried on to the local pub for a BBQ. We shared stories of the good times, and reconnected with old friends she’d brought us back in touch with.
Faye’s Funeral Order Of Service… Bright & Fun
It just so happened that the night of her funeral, I had already planned a party at my house, because my parents were away, and she had been supposed to come. Instead of cancelling, everyone convinced me, and we took her celebration of life back to mine. Although she was no longer physically present, it felt like she was there through all the people who cared about her so much. (Apart from the idiot who stole my mum’s sat nav… you suck!).
How My Life Has Changed
After that day in the Job Centre, I never went back. Who was I to be wasting my life, to be spending my sadly limited time acting entitled and apathetic when I could be living it for those who couldn’t? I was drinking three or four nights a week, taking advantage of my mum’s kindness, and generally being pathetic without any kind of work ethic. It was only for three months, but I am ashamed of those three months! I accepted a job in a call centre the day before Faye’s funeral, and I finished my applications to return to University. I’ve never looked back. I wouldn’t have traveled, seen so much, have the job and prospects I do now, without Faye’s influence. In all honesty though, I’d trade it to get her back. However, I bet I’d have found my way eventually, looking to her for inspiration along the way.
I finally graduated… honestly, thank you Faye.
Faye also taught me the importance of going to the doctors. At aged 18 ish, she shouldn’t have had cancer, let alone starting in her ovaries. She taught me the stats aren’t always right, and you should always demand tests. She also taught me the importance of donating to cancer charities… we haven’t cured it yet. Clic Sargent are brilliant because they also help with respite care, and since helping Faye, they’ve helped an old friend Ann-Zoe to live normally, too.
This isn’t about me. You’re forever 20. There are still times when I get annoyed at people wasting their precious lives, when you fought so hard in spite of everything you were going through and achieved more in just two short decades than most people do in a lifetime. But I guess there’s not much point in being angry because not everyone can be as awesome as you… it’s what made you special. You really are my inspiration and the reason I want to live life to the fullest. You can come back now and party with us if you like? We miss you.
Forever Friends, Forever Fairy, Forever Faye.