She sat, her children tucked into each side, comforting them in their grief. She knew eyes were on her, in concern, in sympathy and in speculation. She had expected it, not because she was a politician and in the public eye, but because today she was the widow. Even though they had been divorced a long time, that was her position in this gathering, mainly she thought, thanks to her children. They linked her to Toby far more than her marriage had ever done. And she knew that while she would be here today anyway in memory of the man she had loved, on her own she would have taken a less visible place in the proceedings.
She looked down at the two heads leaning into her, marvelling yet again at the two people she and Toby had brought into the world. Their father had adored them, and they had reciprocated with equal fervour. Today was a hard day for them. Her thumbs rubbed gentle circles on their shoulders, a physical reminder that they were not alone.
Her eyes wandered over the gathering, nodding a greeting to any present who caught her eye, recognising most of the mourners, after all they had moved in similar circles. Her attention was caught by one in particular. She looked composed as always, only her pallor betraying her, although Andi doubted anyone who didn't know her well would recognise it. She appeared to be listening to whatever discussion was being held by the colleagues surrounding her, but remained silent, another tiny tell. Andi was reasonably sure that actually she was miles away but years of moving in political circles had made her a consummate professional. Only a few would ever guess that in many ways, this was the woman they should be addressing their sympathy to, the one who had loved Toby for longer than Andi had even known him. Who had stood by him through good times and bad, who had accepted him for who he was and had shared with him one of the deepest friendships Andi had ever witnessed. Andi did not know if their friendship had progressed beyond that point in the years since the divorce, but she had always known what CJ's feelings were.
She appreciated the care those closest to her were taking of the grieving woman, by their presence and seeming normalcy they were protecting her from prying eyes. Allowing her the space to be. Each had individually come to her and the twins to offer their condolences, before returning to quietly support their friend.
Their eyes met and a moment of mutual understanding was shared, before she had to turn her attention back to those wishing to offer her their sympathy.