Last week I lifted my mood and reminded myself of my many blessings by writing a tribute to my friends Wendie and Cathy. I enjoyed it so much I've decided to make it a regular Saturday treat. I first met Amanda in the Gaza Strip, seven and a half years ago. The first time I saw her she was dancing to Arabic music with amazing abandon and natural rhythm. I saw this young woman radiating sensuality and a wonderful sense of fun and I thought, life here in Gaza is not going to be so bad. Over the almost two years that we lived in Gaza together I saw many more examples of Amanda's willingness and ability to grab the goodness of life where she found it. Together we stood together under a waterfall in north Israel, luxuriating in the feel of water falling after months in the dry desert. Together we danced whenever there was time, space and music to be found or made. When we both ended up back in New Zealand, living in the wild, windy Wellington, Amanda and I found more ways to grasp at life in all it's pulsing, sweating glory. We rode our funny old bikes up hills so steep I thought we might never make it, just so that we could have the thrill of riding down the other side to the coast. We ran together in my first every road race, a 5km charity women's race. She even forgave me for my unplanned spurt of competitiveness at the 4km mark. And still, together we danced whenever there was time, space and music to be found or made. Amanda is willing to try life out, to taste new flavours, kiss new men, venture to new places and tease out new ideas. But over these years I have come to know Amanda as a woman not only of vibrance and fun, but also of integrity and humanity. Amanda has shown me through her life what it really looks like when we honour the inherent dignity of every person. She has taught me what it can mean when we are not unduly impressed by those who hold position, power or popularity, and when we are neither patronising or dismissive of those who lack all three. This in itself would be enough reason to love her. But more than all these things, Amanda understands and embraces all of me. I hope that she would say the same about me. I have never held back from telling Amanda the truth about my fear, my anger, my sadness, my pain, my grief or my jealousy. I have never felt that I needed to. I know that she already knows, and she loves me all the same.