He was the first to know when I was expecting my daughter and he helped me laugh through my fear.
He carried my baby from hospital in her car seat, grasping the handle tightly, as though his life depended on it.
He comforted me when my father died and took my hand to dance through my pain.
He has been a constant reminder to me of all that's good in this world, regardless of the miles that separate us.
We spent every day and evening together as young people, finding our way. I envied his sense of style, his artistic intelligence and his dry English sense of humour.
I felt that special, unbreakable love and I've never had one like it before apart from with family. I have three brothers and he's like the fourth brother I never had.
But tomorrow I fear I'll fail him, be unable to return the care he gave. I'll miss the natural and vital hours of supporting my closest friend, as he attends the funeral of his beloved mother.
I've known Simon since the age of 18 and I liked him instantly. I grew to love him. I always will. But today I'm not where I should be and that guilt is overwhelming.
I should be by his side, paying my respects at the funeral of his mother, Angela. I should be comforting him.
But our world is so drastically changed in this pandemic. That age-old tradition of attending a funeral is now an impossibility for many of us.
So, I'll be in Ireland and he'll be in England, with just a small number of family members in attendance.
I'll light a candle, my only way of holding that time precious, sacred.
But it doesn't stop me feeling I'm neglecting my duty as a friend.
It feels wrong not to be there with him, for this time of such vast sorrow.
I know we're not alone. People across the world are enduring terrible pain unleashed by Covid-19.
I know so many in the world are grieving, not only the loss of loved ones but the loss of our freedom. Our ability to live normally, to mark precious milestones, life and death has utterly changed.
At the start of last month, I spent the weekend with my best friend in Dublin. Simon had flown over from England to attend a concert with me and I was so excited to see him.
We clicked into place as we always have, as though it had only been a day since we'd last spent time together.
We had a lovely weekend but never in my darkest thoughts could I have imagined this time since. Simon's gorgeous mother passed away from a non Covid-19-related issue, taken too soon.
My heart broke the day I heard the terrible news. A shadow swept over me and I cried constantly.
Then, as measures began to be introduced to protect the world against Covid-19, I had a sinking feeling I might not be able to go to the funeral.
Sadly, it turned out my suspicions were correct. Tomorrow, as my most cherished friend says a very difficult goodbye to his mother, I'll be nowhere near. Not even in the same country.
I'll be in Dublin and he'll be in Northampton. I should be beside him, just as he was beside me when my daughter was born in 1998. I should be comforting him, as he comforted me when my own father died in 2009.
I should be telling him time will help heal his heart. I'd promise it will because I know it does. And I should be able to say my own goodbyes to lovely Angela too - a woman I thank for bringing Simon into this world.
Instead, I will sit here in my home and visualise the funeral as it plays out. I know the music that will fill the crematorium and even a poem chosen to symbolise Angela's love for life - a life over far, far too soon.
There will only be close members of the former dental nurse's family at the service because of the restrictions surrounding this virus that's changed our entire lives, making grief something we aren't permitted to mark in the way we crave.
I'm writing here as the only way I know how to say goodbye if I'm not permitted the normal passage. It's the only way I know how to be respectful - by showing my heart, by writing my pain, hoping he knows I'd give the world to be there, by his side.
I'll remember Angela's kindness tomorrow, her sense of fun, how she held my daughter's hand as a toddler, how she played along.
I'll remember how she told me she wanted to visit Dublin last time I saw her in January. I'll remember that final embrace. It was lasting and warm. I'm glad it lasted. I wish she'd made it over, just for one last hug.
Today I'll cry, I'll feel empty but I'll call Simon after the funeral and I'll do my very best to be present, even from across the Irish Sea.
Thank you, Angela. You raised my dearest friend to be an amazing human being. Simon is my light, my reminder of all that's good in this world. RIP Angela.