It was a typical mothers' group meeting for us. Dinner. Wine. Laughter and a few tears (with a consoling clink of glasses). But this group had more than sleepless nights and toddler tantrums to muse about.
One of us was dying. We didn't know it then. Not really. She was sick but there were lots of treatment options available. She was determined to do anything, and everything, to beat the cancer cells that were slowly creeping through her body. It was going to be a long, tough road but she'd get there.
Our conversation didn't dwell on her sickness, it never did. She wasn't the sort to draw attention to her herself or burden others with her worries. She wanted to be a mum just like us, sharing the joys and frustrations that go with juggling work and kids.
But often her words, spoken with humour and kindness, bore a profoundness only truly appreciated in hindsight.
"You'll never have this opportunity again", she said to me this particular night. We had been weighing up the pros and cons of taking 3 children under the age of 4 on an international flight to visit family in the UK.
"Yes, its going to be hard. Yes, its going to be expensive...." And then out it came, that much heard mantra:
"Life's too short. Just do it."
We laughed then. How many times have we heard that one in our lives? What a cliche! But the laughter was short-lived and was echoed with a look that said more than those few words could ever say:
"Don't wait. Don't put it off. You don't know what's around the corner.
You can be healthy one day and dying the next. You'll regret it if you don't.
Your family deserve this. You deserve this. No matter how hard it is it'll be worth it".
And now it is these words, and the memory of my dear friend Donna with all her strength and humility, that push me forward in every big decision I make.
To start my own business. To work from home. To do something that is meaningful to me.
To help others plan their family's future.