Jo

She came into my life by chance.  A connection through a connection, not too long before Avery arrived.

I didn’t warm instantly. I was guarded.  I was meeting her because I had to.  I was doing this for others.  Nevertheless, I liked her in spite of myself.

In hindsight, she was one of the signs telling me that Avery would not make it.  I am guess I am glad I did not listen to that in the beginning.  I might have been more… withdrawn.

It was hard for both of us.  Navigating unfamiliar territory.  Her not wanting to impose, me not wanting her there, but terrified she would go.  She was all I had for a while, and I was grateful.  Beyond grateful.

And in the aftermath of Avery’s death, I still held myself guarded.  She was not supposed to be part of my life, and yet here she was.  But slowly, after time, I gave into the pull of her infections laugh, warm heart and gentle eyes.  I began to welcome her into my life, deeper below the surface.  It was the least I could do.

But sometimes friendship takes you by the hand, long before you know where you are walking and realistically, after Avery’s death, we were always going to be connected deeply.  Now it was by choice, rather than circumstance.

When Colt left and in the weeks after, our connection… our friendship… became sealed.  Discussing blood clots from one’s vagina can do that between women.

Time, technology and coffee have all helped propel us along this path, but there is a depth now that while, perhaps a little one sided (I can be a little needy!), is definitely beyond your regular friendship.  How can you explain to someone that they have a key to your heart that you never knew was locked?  That, just their warm embrace unleashes tears you never knew you were holding back?

She does it every time.  Holds me in a way that pushes past that first layer of protection, and softens my walls.  I cannot, ever, hold back my tears when she squeezes me in her warm grasp and holds me, whispering in my ear.  My defenses dissolve and the tears flow without resistance.

I have needed to connect.  To feel part of her world again.  To sit.  Talk.

It was like that tonight.  Just sitting.  Just talking.  Laughing over and over, relaxing me through to the core.

Staying longer than I should, unwilling, unable to leave.  I wanted more time.  For Tara not to be there so I could talk.  To share fears and heartbreak (perhaps over a non-decaffinated coffee!).  But life has a way of getting in the road of plans and wishes, and it was not to be.  Not today.

Dragging my hyperactive child away from her new best friend (the dog), I hugged her.  Holding her close.  And that long, lingering hug did what it always does and my walls came crumbling down – and with them came the tears I have needed to cry – to still cry. My body relaxed into the sobs and I let the tears fall briefly.  I have a long drive and I know that if I don’t stop, I will be incapable of driving through the night.

Still, I hover in her arms, unwilling to let go straight away.  We both go back for more and more hugs.  Time is never in our favour.

I climb into the car, Tara in the backseat muttering and mumbling, an anxiety high after a big weekend.  She walks back into the warmth of her house.  I warm up the car.  Turning Avery’s CD on high volume I let the tears fall as I turn the car around and drive to the end of the street.  I let the heaves shudder then relax as I compose myself before the first corner.

I turn towards Sydney and drive towards home.

It’s never long enough.

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