Letters to my friend.

Dear Ann,

It’s now nineteen and a half months since you died and I miss you as much as ever.

The middle of the week, when it slumps, is when I miss you most. I miss your midweek messages inviting me over for a ‘cuppa’. You always said ‘cuppa’. I loved that familiarity. I don’t know anyone else who uses that word. But then I don’t know anyone else like you.

You were a one-off. The grief I felt at your loss totally overwhelmed me for a while. I couldn’t understand what was happening. There’s been a heap of processing for me to do. I’ve lost my go-to person and my best and nearest friend.

At your house, or sometimes at mine, over our cuppas, you told me about your old and long-standing friendships. They were friends who you regularly made annual or twice annual trips to visit. I didn’t make the connection that those trips incurred a cost. My immature and frankly, tottery, emotions were still ruling me then.

Now at last I’m healing and emotionally stable enough to appreciate (and not mind) that your old friendships were part of who you were. They fed and fortified you in mind and body. I have a few old friends of course but instability only drains me. At the time when I could have been forming lifelong friendships I was fickle.

We were the same age, born in the sixties, and while my family wasn’t always there, yours was. Your big, laughing, blood-bonded family provided solid ground to stand on and taught you how to be what you were. So really (I get it now), I was a neighbour – one of the ones you spoke up for because for you, a woman of faith, the Christian teaching about loving our neighbours was a driving force. I needed you, my neighbour. To me you offered unlimited reliability, honesty and kindness. And, of course, you were there.

I’m glad you had those old and true friends, not standing any feigning or pretence, because you (and they) have taught me how to be real. Now, without you, I’m trying to really live. I’m trying to be honest and accept myself, believing as I now do, that I was worthy of being your loved neighbour. I’m trying to practice what you taught me. To bear up against the dry and stinging desert sands of grief and let the rains come in their season. I’ve got myself a place in the queue and I’m patiently waiting and watching for the agitation of the healing waters.

Ann, if you can, just reach down, will you love, and give me a little helpful push, if at all I lose my nerve.

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