Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of a friend.
For ten years, we shared the joys and sorrows, the wakeful nights, the happy mornings, the contented hours and the disturbed ones. We celebrated and mourned together. Travelled, moved house, worked, partied, grew up.
We were together for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. A daydream believer and a homecoming queen.
There is a lot of hearty, strident stuff spoken about quitting the habit, mostly because, like marriage, it's incomprehensible from the outside – you need to be in it to understand it. Someone described it as a magic wand that changes everything and quitting is hard because there isn't another one to replace it. Actually it is the closest companion, the truest love and the fairy godmother wielding the magic wand, all rolled into one.
A ten-year relationship is a hard one to end, but I did. As Hugh Grant says in Love Actually, "I fear this has become a bad relationship and from now on I am prepared to be much stronger". I finally got tired of the tyranny of this habit, angry about feeling helpless, dragged along in the wake of yet another compulsion. Tired enough, once more, to walk away from this sort of thing.
And now I need to go out to find creatures smaller than me and kill them just to watch them die. And I hope that you, dearly beloved who are reading this, will get fleas.
The quit-smoking programme said I'll stop feeling homicidal in two weeks. It also warned that heavy smokers would experience real feelings of bereavement.
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