To my far away friends…

I discovered this unfinished post in my drafts folder. To read it you might think it was written this year. But actually I think it was something I started writing in 2016. It is very strange to read, thinking how much of what I was feeling then, are emotions and frustrations I’ve had this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than attempt to finish it, I thought I’d just share as it is…unfinished.

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This picture always makes me feel so lucky, because of the incredible women who feature in it. Just so you know this is just a handful of the amazing women I get to call my friends. But these ones are pretty important.

This weekend has been an emotional one. If you know me ‘in real life’ you’ll likely have picked up from social media why. But needless to say I was getting emotional on the bus home from work on Saturday night texting one of the women in this picture. Two others I was praying for a lot that day. The other was in Italy, facebooking shared excitement for a friend of mine she only met on this one day.

The toughest part of the financial hardship of the last two years has been the separation from my far away friends. Being able to go to my friend’s wedding last weekend was only possible because we travelled the day I got paid, and my mother kindly lent me some money to pay for our accommodation. I have close friends in England, Italy, Nigeria, Senegal – not to mention family in Austria and Spain – and I haven’t been able to travel to see them. Partly this is because money is tight, and travelling isn’t very affordable. Partly it is because taking time off work means losing pay I can’t afford to pass on.

I am super grateful, that for the moment I seem to be coming out of this time. I am working more, and though it’s rare to get two days off in a row, I’m not going to be quite so anxious for renewing a bus pass or going to the supermarket. I may even be able to go to the opticians and get my eyes checked (the dentist will still be out of my price range).

I am super grateful for National Insurance and our not perfect, but great NHS. The NHS has taken care of my friend. And while failing sight or toothache may give me worry because those things don’t get covered by NHS (my eyesight is now so bad that I get a voucher but it doesn’t remotely cover the cost of glasses!) getting sick is unpleasant but I can access medical help. And they are looking after my friend right now.

My goodness though, it has broken my heart at times not being able to see my friends in person. I can’t count how many times friends have asked “when are you coming to see us?” and I’ve not been able to respond because I’ve just holding my phone crying. I missed my friends’ wedding this summer. I missed my friends’ son dedication which turned out to mean I missed meeting their son altogether. I missed my friend’s ordaination.

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