My friend Alice was a lot of fun.
She was outrageous, obnoxious and offensive.
She had an awkward gait, and strutted around in a shabby second-hand leather jacket.
She had dark tousled brown curls, large soulful cornflower blue eyes and an impish smile.
My friend Alice was the daughter of a lord.
When she was 9 she met JFK.
She was engaged to a legendary blues musician.
She was in the original production of tribal love rock musical Hair on Broadway.
My friend Alice lost her mother to car crash when she was 15.
When she was 22, she found her brother dead in his apartment from gunshot wounds, an apparent suicide.
When she was 33, she lost her father to a car crash.
When I met her, she was an alcoholic and heroin addict.
My friend Alice spent many years going in and out of rehab.
We connected at a time in our lives when we were lost.
I was searching for something more, she was searching for an escape from her pain and loss.
One day I received a phone call from the local hospital.
My friend Alice had been beaten up by a group of drunks on the street.
I braced myself when I went see her in hospital with another friend, Ant.
Alice looked up at us from her hospital bed, smiling her impish smile.
This time her face was swollen with 2 black eyes, her body bruised and battered.
She made jokes while we visited.
I put on a brave face
But I felt afraid for her.
A few weeks later I received another call.
My friend Alice had been found dead in a bedsit a few days before she turned 43.
I travelled to the border of England and Wales to attend her funeral, which was held in a chapel near her family home.
It was a sobering experience.
My friend Alice came from privilege but ended up in poverty, practically homeless.
She was so lost she didn’t even know how lost she was.
She taught me that no matter how privileged, exciting, and impressive your life, this does not guarantee you happiness or peace.
Her legacy to me was not to judge another person by their appearance because until you have walked a mile in another person’s shoes, you do not know what their life is about.
My friend Alice is at peace now, in a much better place. I believe.
She was humble, kind and funny,
And although her end was tragic, she touched many people with her capacity for life, laughter and love.
I’ll always remember her awkward gait, shabby second hand leather jacket, impish smile and large soulfull cornflower blue eyes.