Monday, July 12, 2004

Search vs discovery

I was using Friends Re-United, a UK web-site to try and locate an old university friend called Barbara Stephens. As I typed in the name the "search" revealed a list of possibilities. As I scrolled down the list I came across a Barbara Stephens who attended Gosforth Grammar School and who had left there in 1973. I knew a Barbara Stephens when I was 6 years old. It was a different Barbara Stephens to the one I lived with at University. I had forgotten all about her, until that moment. She was the older sister of my first best friend. I wondered, if this person could be my friend Gillian's sister. I wrote to Gillian a couple of times when I was six years old. She wrote back to me. We promised we would visit. Where she had moved to, seemed so far away. It was only forty miles. We lost touch. I sent an e-mail, just on the off chance that it could be her.

The next day I received a reply and I was right. Barbara remembered straight away. She gave me an update on her family. I wasn't prepared for the tragedy that unfolded. Her mum had died of cancer in 1983, at the age of 49. Gillian died last Christmas of breast cancer. The family is still grief ridden.

I found out that Gillian had attended Bedford College, London University at the same time I attended University College, London University. We were about two miles apart for three years. After that she went on to train and later became a Midwife at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow. I gave birth to my two boys there. We lived and worked in the same area about three miles apart for years.

Barbara told me that Gillian was a lovely person. All I remember is that she was my first best friend. I was bereft when she moved away. This story adds a whole new meaning to the expression "good friends are hard to find"

The point of Kevin's recent blog entry about search and discovery is well illustrated by this story. I didn't find what I originally searched for, but I discovered a whole lot more."Blogging is about what you discover, not about what you search for." This idea extends to other things too. The discoveries can be personal and emotional.

My fragmented memories made the links which enabled me to do the search. My discoveries have had a profound impact on me just like the film I watched a film a couple of weeks ago called "Sheltering Sky".


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