I'd been in Jakarta for about three days when the first person asked me if I knew Belinda. When I met her, I realized it was more of a statement than a question. It was a you really NEED to meet this girl, which was usually followed by a "she's great fun, you'd love her".
About a week later, I was sitting at a backyard bbq when a pregnant woman with curly blonde hair, walked through the door. She had a huge smile, it wasn't one of those token pleasant nice to meet you smiles, it was a grin, an infectious lets get this party started grin. You couldn't help but grin back.
After we were introduced we began to join the dots. Not only were we both Australian, pregnant and from Adelaide, our babies were due within weeks of each other and we had both chosen the same hospital in Adelaide to deliver. It was to be the first baby for both of us. I couldn't believe my luck, here I was miles from home and I'd found a kindred spirit.
When Belinda told me about Dave her face somehow changed, you could see that she was genuinely in love with him. She talked about their wedding and how gorgeous the day was. When I asked how they'd met she giggled like she had a secret. She explained they'd met at work, how she'd "scored" the boss. She said Dave had had to sack her but it was worth it! We both laughed conspiratorially.
I was envious of Belinda. She appeared to have unlimited energy, she just got on with it. She spoke Bahasa (Indonesian) really well and knew how to find her way around town. She was an increidble chef and had an eye for a bargain. She was always on the move, pregnancy didn't slow her down.
It would be fair to say I didn't embrace my pregnancies, my maternity wardrobe was dull and of tent size proportions, I resented the weight, the fat ankles, and never felt quite like myself. Pregnant Kirsty and non pregnant Kirsty were two completely different people.
While I bemoaned not being able to have a drink and feeling fat and frumpy, Belinda laughed and organized a cocktail party, a really bloody good cocktail party.
When we knocked on the door that evening you could hear the party was in full swing, Belinda greeted us, six months pregnant and in a hot pink dress with feathers, she looked fantastic. "Come and see Dave" she shrieked "he looks bloody gorgeous!" As she led us towards the bar through a crowd of people, she pointed in his direction, he grinned, his hair was slicked back and he was in the full swing of making cocktails. Over the years I would learn this was classic Dave and Belinda, they were the ultimate hosts. It was always fun.
Over the past eleven years I think we've covered roughly 14 different locations between us and although we've shared a few cities, only once was it at the same time. Somehow though, whenever we got together, the conversation would just flow. Whether it was Adelaide, Melbourne, Malta, Dubai, Tunisia or Jakarta you knew it was going to be fun, for everyone, especially the kids.
When Belinda sent me the first email about "the big C" as she called it, I was sitting in my car in Houston. I sat motionless, reading and then rereading everything she'd gone though. When I rang and asked why she hadn't told me earlier it was pure Belinda. "You couldn't do anything, I just wanted to get on with it".
After G spoke to Dave this morning, to say we'd heard the news, he relayed the message to me "remember the good times, no need for flowers, maybe just write the kids a note and tell them about the happy times you've had with Belinda". And I will B, I promise. I know your circle of friends is huge and we are just one of many, I'm sure we all have a memory to share.
In the meantime though, when I'm not reminiscing about the old days, the days when you somehow managed to turn three scoops of ice-cream and some fruit in to the most amazing parfait I've ever had. I will think of you getting everything ready at your next location, learning the language, bartering at the markets, furnishing the house and putting the drinks on ice.
Until then my gorgeous friend. I'll catch you at the next location.