by Tony Britton, Fundraising Manager, ME Association.
Merryn died on 23 May 2017, just ten days after her 21st birthday. This month would have been her 24th birthday. Emily remembers how her friend's personality filled the room wherever she was.
“I met her first when we were 11 and taking the same bus to different schools in Rochdale.
“To begin with, I would go and sit quietly at the back. But, from the moment she got on a few stops later, it was constant shouts of ‘Merryn! Merryn! Come and sit down here'. Everyone knew her and wanted to be around her.”
Emily (24), now a paediatric Occupational Therapist in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said that they became inseparable after Merryn moved schools. They loved going on adventures and causing trouble together.
The friendship deepened after Merryn became ill at the age of 15, and this continued through every stage of her illness and remained rock-solid until the very end.
“One day, we even kidnapped her in her wheelchair from the hospital and spent hours laughing together at Hollingworth Lake, where she always liked going with family and friends.
“Merryn's mum Clare and stepdad Dave brought Merryn to the lake that day and came back to collect her when she needed to go back to the hospital. Merryn would always remember it as one of the happiest times of her life.”
Eventually, Emily went to Newcastle to study Occupational Therapy. And, while Merryn became bedbound for the last three years of her life, she always held on to her dream of going on to study drama; she had always loved to act and sing.
“When Merryn was too sick to text, Clare would keep me updated. We weren't able to speak to each other in the days before she died as she was often too weak to use her phone, especially in the last couple of weeks. I went to see her for the last time the week before she died, and she was able to speak to me a little.
“However ill she was, she always wanted to know how I was doing.
“Physically and mentally, almost everything was too much for Merryn, but the amazing thing about her was that she gave everything she physically had to being a supportive and caring friend.
“I was taking my finals that May and she was so excited for me to graduate and start my first job. In our last conversation, she didn't have much energy to speak but she asked when my last exam would be.
“I heard the very next morning after the final exam that she had passed away. It was like she had been hanging on until she knew that I had got through that.
“I will never forget her, the memories we shared together and the things she taught me about true friendship.”
Emily is thrilled that she has been able to keep in touch with Merryn's family. They speak and visit each other often and Emily is now godmother to Merryn's sister Amy's two children, who were born after Merryn had died.
In 2018, she took on what she called her “Triple Whammy” – raising £700 with a 150ft zip wire, 150ft abseil and 250ft freefall anti-gravity drop.
“Merryn would have loved all of the thrill-seeking challenges and taken great pleasure in how difficult I found them!”
ME Awareness Week Monday 11th – Sunday 17th May 2020
The ME Association
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Emily is pleased to be able to help the ME Association keep its head above water in these difficult times. Please support her efforts by visiting her JustGiving page.