When I said goodbye to Benazir Bhutto two months ago, just after she had survived a bomb attack, she said she would "catch me later". I was returning to England after accompanying her on her return journey to Karachi; and those were the last words she said to my face.
To me, they epitomised our friendship which had started 33 years ago, when we were students at Oxford.
Despite the different worlds in which we lived - she a politician in Pakistan, me a writer and historian living in England - I always knew I would be seeing her again, whether as prime minister, opposition leader or friend and mother.
Our friendship had passed through many phases. After our student days at Oxford, when we had enjoyed debates at the Union - where she became president in 1976, and I followed a year later - I witnessed the beginning of her political career.
Not long after returning to Pakistan, her father was dismissed in a military coup and put on trial for conspiracy to murder. While he was in jail, almost by default she picked up his political mantle. "All the other political leaders have been arrested," she told me when I joined her in Pakistan, that summer of 1978.
When her father was executed the following April, what she hoped would be only a temporary position, standing in for him as leader of the Pakistan People's Party, became a permanent one. It was to be a long struggle. General Zia al-Haq, the military leader who had overthrown and executed her father, was entrenched as president of Pakistan.
After the Soviet Union invaded neighbouring Afghanistan in 1979, he enjoyed the backing of the West. His death in a plane crash in 1988 opened the way for her to stand in national elections. When she became prime minister, it seemed that she had been able to step into her father's shoes to continue his work.
As a liberal Western woman and believer in the political process - something she had imbibed during her education at Harvard and Oxford - she genuinely believed that she could make a difference. She often told me that it was the love and dedication of the people that kept her going.
But within 16 months, her first premiership was over, after the military ousted her amid allegations of corruption. Her second term as prime minister lasted longer but ended in the same way.
As a mother of three children with her husband in jail, she preferred to retain her liberty rather than face possible imprisonment - and so moved to Dubai. She also continued to campaign for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, fighting, as she used to say, against dictatorship because under its wing the forces of extremism could flourish.
Her joy at returning to Pakistan in October was immediately marred by the attack on her bus as she made her way in a triumphal procession through Karachi.
It was a reminder, as she knew already, that by returning to Pakistan her life was in danger. Even then she showed that extraordinary courage, which I had come to appreciate as the hallmark of her character. "We cannot let them force us to quit," she said to me. During the various phases of her political career, I had also seen how much she enjoyed her role as a mother - more perhaps than the general public was aware.
Even during her periods of exile, when she came to London to meet politicians and party workers, she loved organising outings and picnics for her children. As a friend, she was kind and generous.
One of the things she enjoyed most was catching up with our old friends from Oxford, finding out who had married and had children. After more than a decade in exile, one might almost have thought that she would stay in Dubai, where she had made a home for herself.
But throughout her time in exile, she never lost sight of what was going on in Pakistan, or the pledge she had made to the people to return to attempt to make their lives better, repeating the election manifesto of her father to provide them with food, clothing and housing.
In October, with elections due and her children now teenagers, she felt the time had come to return. Despite the dangers which she knew she faced, it was her sense of duty and commitment, which so tragically made her not just the daughter of Pakistan, as she was so famously known, but also of destiny.