ImageI’ll have one of those blue drinks,” is my standard request at Jakes on Summerley. It’s one of those moments where you want to lift your glass before it arrives and toast the one you have in mind, even though they are not there. I found myself explaining my order to a friend last evening as I requested my usual. I took my good friend Solvej to one of her last full-body scans before she died of cancer last year. It was an early morning appointment and after around an hour in the machine, she emerged smiling bravely. I was speechless as I had been watching the computer screen hoping those spots were not what I feared. They were.

We went straight from there to Jakes on Summerley and Sollie tore open the envelope addressed to her oncologist. “Are you allowed to do that?” I asked like a schoolgirl not wanting to break the rules. She laughed at me. “It’s my body,” she exclaimed in her impish way. We pored over the scans, comparing one from six months before to the one she had just had. There were new ‘spots’ everywhere. We looked at each other in dismay. I had no words, other than … “this is just crap, Sollie, I am so sorry, it’s just crap.” She had been feeling so buoyant, as if things were finally changing for the better after months of fighting new waves of cancer. I could see the deflation in her eyes.

The waiter arrived. Can I get you something to drink? Coffee? Juice? We looked at each other – and silently agreed that something stronger was needed. “But it’s only 10 o’clock in the morning,” she said. And then – a sudden dawning – life is too short. “Give us something blue and tasty,” I said. We giggled – two thirty-something adults looking over our shoulders, waiting for someone to arrive to tell us we should not need alcohol to face this news, or be drinking so early in the morning. We laughed when our large blue cocktails arrived. We chuckled as we toasted, sipped them, and commiserated as we chatted about the road ahead. It was my last ‘outing’ with Sollie. The next time we saw each other she was in bed, her legs no longer working, but her spirit full of life and feisty.

I miss her a lot. Some times more than others – but none so often as when I am at Jakes on Summerley, ordering one of those ‘blue drinks’ and toasting my brave, funny, wise and generous friend – Sollie.