We first met in a fine arts class that we shared at university. When I look back on those outdoor lunches we had between classes, there's a warm, golden glow filtering through my memories.
I'm not sure what T saw in me, why she wanted to get to know me. To spend time with me.
In her, I saw sunshine. Others saw her light, too - so many of us, like moths. T was completely unaware of the effect she had on people, though.
In her, I learned what gifted meant. Her words tumbled and flowed. Her drawings oozed and dripped, revealing shafts of light - and darkness - from her soul. The very sight of her handwriting, alone, filled me with anticipation.
In her, I found a sister. A friend for life. The world, as I'd known it then, shifted. Tilted. Expanded.
I miss her so much.
Those student days were intense.
Together, we danced and sang to music we loved. We lost weekends to 'recreation'. Juggled study and work. Juggled housemates and relationships. Love and heartbreak. Colour and chaos. Entwined.
A few years later, she came to see us in London, and stayed for the summer. More adventures. Sunshine. Music. Barefoot freedom. More broken hearts.
Since then, geography has got in our way. When J and I returned to Australia, we moved to Melbourne. T was in Sydney. We eventually moved back to Sydney, and I was able to start spending time with her again. Then, when I was pregnant with the Faery, she left Australia. A new life in a new country was calling her.
I didn't want her to go, but I understood. She needed to be with the love of her life, and so once again, a sea stood between us. Another timezone. It was only a few hours, but it seemed so far.
Now, it's an even bigger ocean between us. We've never been into buying birthday cards or gifts for one another, although I still have - and treasure - one she made for me all those years ago. Shyly given to me outside Fisher Library. A black and white drawing, a silhouette of two female figures on a small boat, sitting opposite, palms raised up and pressed together. There's a large full moon rising behind us, illuminating the gentle waves.
That card is tucked away into a shoe box of mementos, inside a bigger box of belongings, in storage. Far away from me. I haven't laid eyes on that drawing for a very long time, but when I close my eyes, I can see every last etch made by her pen. Every line. I know the picture well.
Just like the card, I haven't seen much of T in recent years. Months, and more months, will pass before one of us gets in touch with the other. Sometimes longer.
It doesn't matter though. Our letters and emails have been prompted by dreams we've had about the other. A hunch, pushing us to pick up a pen, or switch on the computer. The timing has been uncanny.
She expressed it beautifully, not long ago - it's like we're cut from the same cloth, and it doesn't matter how much time passes before we speak or write, because there's always a part of us in one another.
I love that.
Yesterday was one of those days when I heard from her, out of the blue, but the timing was perfect. As always, her words made me want to cry. I still get a lump in my throat each time I replay her words.
I'm not a gushy person. I'm not touchy-feely. I do the whole bottle-it-in-with-stiff-upper-lip thing a little too well (just like my family). Some people probably even find me... prickly. I don't do declarations of love, except to a select few. That's just who I am. My poor husband.
I needed to write this, though. I love and miss T like crazy and today, it hurts... so I'm making an effort to go against my usual grain, and attempt the mantra of better out than in.
I hope T knows just how much she means to me.