“You talked about bread.”
“There was a whole conversation about your trip to Tesco and the bread that you bought, and what was on offer.”
Some months after I’d separated from my ex-husband, Laura, my best friend from secondary school, was telling me about the kind of conversations we’d ended up having when I was still married. She delicately, but with no apology, told me a few home truths so I’d realise how much I’d changed while married, and how far I’d come in a short few months.
She, as well as another friend Charley, virtually and literally held my hand throughout those first 6 months where I was like a rabbit in headlights with verbal diarrhoea trying to make sense of my life post-separation and my ex-husband’s erratic behaviour.
On the end of the phone, a message or a short drive away, I knew that if I needed her, she’d be there. And she was, many times. Never complaining and always listening.
For my 30th birthday, she got me a present; a ceramic coaster with the words “Friends are like stars, you don’t have to see them to know they are there <3”.
We’d not seen each other too much at that time in our lives; she’d had a baby who’d turned into a toddler, and I’d retreated more and more into a shell I didn’t even realise was there. I think she knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what, and so the present was a reminder that she’d always be there for me.
I don’t think I ever told her about the moment I opened her gift. The day before I’d had a row with my ex-husband. I can’t remember what about, probably something trivial, but I’d slept in the spare room. Due to fly to Venice on the morning of my birthday, I got up, alone, and, after some time of waiting but seeing no sign of the ex while time was marching on, I started opening my cards and presents. It’s fair to say it wasn’t quite how I’d envisaged the morning of my 30th birthday to go, and halfway through he came into the room. A look of disgust and a slammed door accompanied the words “you could have f*cking waited for me”, leaving me in no doubt that whatever we’d argued about the night before was still an issue, birthday or not.
Refusing to engage, I carried on, Laura’s being the first present I chose. At the sight of those words I burst into tears; big, giant, gut-wrenching sobs. It would be another 4 months before I left that relationship, but the seeds had been sown. Knowing that someone had my back gave me strength I didn’t think I had to sort my shit out and get out.
When I told her I was moving to the other side of the world, her reaction was to tell me to go, to not regret it and go live my life. I think she even told me not to come back. I can’t remember the exact words (they were much more succinct) but it was along those lines.
I don’t think I’ve ever said thank you. For helping me out at a time when I so desperately needed it, and just generally for being my friend.
Thank you <3.