Two years ago today, in a little while, one of my closest friends died. Her death has impacted me profoundly and there truly hasn’t been a day that has gone by without her in my thoughts. When someone that you love dies, a part of you goes with them. And I don’t know that you can ever be the same again. I definitely haven’t been.
My friend truly was an incredible woman. She had health issues that told her she would struggle to have her own kids. In spite of this, she gave birth to two incredible boys and their health, safety and development became her life. She was very intimidating. I met her when her oldest son was in my Year 7 English class for one period a week or fortnight; I can’t remember. She soon became known as a force to be reckoned with. But looking through the fierce spirit, it was obvious that it was borne from an intense love for her children.
The following year I taught her second son full-time in English. He was/is a gifted writer. Much quieter than his older brother. I loved that class. The relationships from that group last today with quite a few of them. A wonderful group of spirited kids with very intimidating parents. I was grateful that they all thought I was a good teacher. And I wasn’t as good then as I am now lol.
Anyway my friend and her husband were old school. They became very involved in the school and every Christmas they would buy thank you gifts and hand deliver them to the boys’ teachers. They possess very giving spirits and were very grateful for anything that anyone would do. This doesn’t happen anymore; teachers are public servants and gratitude isn’t high on the public agenda. My friend and her husband were truly breaths of fresh air.
I am shy. Parent Teacher Nights terrify me. But to some extent I have always been lucky to find parents that I develop good relationships with and our catch ups take the sting out of the ordeal for me, even today. My friend would come in and we would talk, even after I no longer taught her boys. By this stage though, we were friends outside of school hours. I would call in for a quick chat and five hours later I might make it home. Golden memories. Cherished moments.
And this friendship grew even stronger through soccer/football. As President, my friend became Registrar and we spent hours together finalising registrations. She was incredible with paperwork and making things happen. And always the family stood by each other. No matter what. To be embraced by that was a phenomenal feeling and privilege. And it was a time in my life where I was perpetually surrounded by that love from many of my friends and their families.
And then Nat became really sick and ended up in hospital. I was constantly terrified that she was going to die. A feeling that wouldn’t go away. But Nat was a fighter (she still is for those that believe in life after this one) and she came home. By this stage I had struggled with my own infertility issues and had started to withdraw from everyone.
One of my favourite memories of Nat’s early hospital stays was our late night phone conversations and her input through some of these on the sperm donor for my baby. Nat always vowed she would babysit and feed my children the necessary meat they needed to survive; I have no doubt that had I been successful she most certainly would have done this. Two bulls charging would be that result lol.
I fell into work and started drifting; connections with others were difficult so it had been a while since we had shared hysterical laughter and gossip when I received a phone call from her eldest son letting me know that she was in hospital for probably (definitely) the final time.
I am so grateful that I spent some time with her, with her family. I am so grateful that they are still in my life. I am grateful that Nat occasionally pops in to chat to me (yes, I do believe in life after this life and make no apology for it). It isn’t the same though and I do miss her.
I really am struggling through tears to find the words to do her life and her the justice she so richly deserves. An incredible woman, mother, child, aunt and friend from an incredible family.
I barely cope with her death and I really struggle to understand how her family continue; testimony to their closeness and resilience.
Just before I received her husband’s text message two years ago, my dog started to bark at a chair in my lounge room, a chair Nat always sat in, and I saw her there. I knew she was gone.