Thank you so much for all your kind messages yesterday after the death of my friend, Q.
It has been a very hard couple of days.
I have never seen my old Etonian, stiff upper lipped husband cry before, even during the whole cancer thing, but several times I've caught him quietly sobbing.
Mr SM and Q first met when they were at boarding school together at the age of seven, and there's something about wrenching young boys from their families, and subjecting them to inedible food, cold showers and the public school 'fagging' system that forges incredibly strong ties.
#2 picked up Mr SM's iPad yesterday and it opened on a site named 'coping with bereavement.'
I'd always thought that if a close friend or family member died I would play my 'Get Out of Jail Free' card. Nobody can be expected to cope with grief without booze, right? Alcohol was practically invented for this - it's medicinal. It numbs the feelings and makes everything bearable.
But I figure that drinking now would be like closing the front door on a house fire. You might be able to forget, temporarily, that it's there, but at some point you have to open that door again, and the fire won't have gone away, it'll just be more out of control.
Instead I've discovered nature's way of dousing the flames: weeping.
I've been doing it a lot. Twenty or thirty times a day. Every time I pick up the 'phone to another friend, but also at random times. The fact that I might be out on the street or in a shop doesn't seem to stop me either.
And, you know what? It really helps.
It feels like a safety valve that clicks into action just when you think that all those feelings building up inside are going to make you explode, or spontaneously combust like a character in a Victorian novel.
The children, who are at home for the holidays, have got used to Mummy randomly weeping.
I've explained to them that grief is an entirely good thing, as it's a sign that you have properly loved, and a life without having properly loved is no life at all.
They get this. What they would not get, and not like is if Mummy were also drunk and incoherent.
Oddly, I don't really want to blur the edges. I feel it would be doing Q a disservice. I want to remember all the times we shared in glorious technicolour. I want to properly grieve for all the new memories I thought we would make in the future.
Plus, I want to be there for his wife and children, my friend and our Godchildren, not just by sharing a few bottles of vino late into the night (which I am sad I can't do), but by helping with the housework, the cooking, the childcare and so on, which I couldn't do drunk or hungover.
One thing I am terribly grateful for is that I don't have any regrets.
The thing about someone dying unexpectedly and suddenly is that you don't have time to prepare. To make time to see them, to tell them that you love them, to show them how much they mean to you.
Had this happened in the Drinking Days I have no doubt I would have been riddled with regret. I'd neglected my old friends for years.
But I'd seen Q a lot recently. He'd been to stay with us in London, we'd seen him up in Scotland. I'm pretty sure he knew how much he meant to us.
I'm weeping again.