Big blue cake.
Live music courtesy of EK1, followed by a set that got everyone's feet moving.
Old friends and faces.
Good bar staff.
I have no idea why, but I felt nervous about going. Without my Cliffy. I bought Marcus a bottle of Hine cognac and a piss-taking, personalised Moonpig card. It felt like the gift that Cliff would have selected himself ... I just wanted him to know that he is special and appreciated. I really was touched that he thought to invite me and how he and Lloyd both mentioned my weight loss without making me feel self-conscious. I explained about the undiagnosed (till a month ago) thyroid issue and they accepted that, although Marcus did say (three times) ... eat MORE (seriously, the man would be shocked ... I think I eat as much as the pair of them).
It took me a shedload of self-motivation to get ready and get there. But I did. And I am so so glad I went. Still buzzing with the sheer joy of being immersed in that old familiar circle. I liked that peeps talked about Cliff to me, and that others told me of many conversations mentioning him all evening.
I rocked up at a fashionable late time of 22h00, announcing my name to security. He grinned and said, "I know who you are! Margo Mayhew, good to see you ... in you go."
I got a drink and started looking for Lloyd and Angie because I feel confident in their company. They were sitting down and it was wonderful to see them, and looking so well. It wasn't long before Brian found me, then Marcus, Saeid, and other faces. Old School. It wasn't long before I felt completely at home in my surroundings.
OMFG. "Two devils and a vampirette!" LOL
After two and a half hours, I didn't want the night to end, but licencing laws dictated otherwise. I spent most of the evening chatting with Saeid - he is a brother from another mother. Truly. I LOVED that he totally got it when I confided in him that I had no desire to re-marry or otherwise. He just SO got it. And agreed that I didn't HAVE to have a man to be complete. Or happy. That it was possible to be happy and widowed/single.
And something else happened tonight ... I spotted a woman. Something in the way she moved. Glimpsed her face and that lovely chestnut hair. "Nat?" I said, incredulously. "OMG, Margo!" Huge huge hug. Smiles, more hugs. "Margo," she blurted in one fast loud sentence. "I lost my husband a year ago." "Oh, Nat" massive bear hug. "Oh, sweetheart, I'm sorry." Eye contact. Then I shared, "I lost my husband too, three and a half years ago." Another big bear hug. "It's been 25 years!" "We were meant to meet today." Nat beckons Dave (her brother) over, who almost starts screaming and jumping with excitement. Phone numbers are exchanged ... they were on their way out - kismet. Kismet.
We'll be in touch. Not to share gloom and doom. But I have almost two years on her. Stuff to share.
We looked in each other's eyes once more. "It's fucking shit, isn't it, Nat?" "Yes, it is." Emotional squeeze good-bye. WOW. As Nat said, we were so close. We share fun memories. From care-free and grief-free days. And we were instantly easy in each other's company once again.
Can't wait to see her.
And ... I can't wait to hug my BFF to thank her for the offer of a bed locally. (I know it was really in case I was upset at the end of the night, having partied without him.) I love her so much.