My life was a mess and I was grieving my late mother. But even so, I should have done something
I met F because she and her husband M were the kind of people who would invite a stranger wrestling a poo-smeared infant over a bin to use their changing mat. That incident happened in the park that separated our flats and, as we chatted, we realised our sons were similar ages. We all ended up in that park often: to start with, we’d meet by accident, but it soon became deliberate and we hung out more regularly, spending anarchic evenings wrangling our four small boys over wine, snacks and neighbourhood gossip.
It was a friendship of shared circumstances, but a real friendship nonetheless. They were good company: F was calmer than the ebullient M; warm, funny and relaxed. I wasn’t in great shape: my mum had died while I was pregnant with our younger son 18 months previously, we’d moved to Paris (a disaster), I’d got pregnant again, had an abortion, then we’d moved back to London. I threw myself into a job that made unreasonable demands on my time, stopped eating and overspent; my partner and I were struggling. I was signed off work and started antidepressants and therapy. We never talked about any of that with F and M, though; I just enjoyed our time together. They were a small, sunnily uncomplicated part of my life when everything else felt hard.