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Love and loss

Tara and Zoe sharing happy moments . Photo courtesy of Tara Burton

TWO years ago a close friend of mine passed away from cancer.

At just 21 years old she lost her battle. I was devastated that she could be taken so young.

On my last visit she had emptied out her wardrobe because she had lost too much weight to fit into her clothes.

She insisted that I take any items that I wanted as she no longer needed them.

Reluctantly, I took a few things, kissed my friend on the cheek and told her I would visit again soon.

I never got that chance because in only a few weeks she was gone.

All I have left of her now apart from my memories are pictures of us together, a crystal angel that dangles in my car, and those items from her wardrobe.

I have mixed emotions about these clothes.

Sometimes I want to wear them so I can feel close to her again.

And at other times I feel they are far too sacred to wear, and I might tear or stain them.

So they hang in my cupboard, where instead of their original purpose they serve as treasured mementoes.

On the rare occasions I've worn them, I think of her constantly, which is why it is so hard to put them on.

These items of hers remind me of the days when she wore them.

But instead of my memories being happy ones, I think of the pain of losing her and feel my grief over again.

I regularly clean out my cupboard and sell items that I no longer wear, whether on eBay or at markets or clothes-swapping parties.

Yet although I ruthlessly spring-clean my regular wardrobe I look at my friend's clothes fondly, knowing I could never give them up.

This got me thinking about our attachments to things – particularly items that have been given to us from relatives or close friends.

Such "stuff " can hold so much meaning.

I'm sure you must know what I mean.

These might look like regular tracksuit pants and matching jacket to strangers, but strangers would have no idea what they mean to me.

They're purple, her favourite colour.

Strangers wouldn't notice my pain when I wear them nor that the memories come flooding back.

I sometimes wonder if there will ever be a day when I will wear them without feeling guilty – that I took something of hers, that I'm here wearing something that belonged to her.

I don't know if that day will come but I do know that I treasure those items.

Along with my photo albums, her clothes would be one of the few things I would grab in a house fire.

I will never part with them.

Photo : Tara and Zoe sharing happy moments . Photo courtesy of Tara Burton