I still go to my phone, to dial you up on FaceTime to see you folding your washing while we talk, to laugh, to talk about our children, to plan the next time we can be around a table together, to bitch, to talk work and to reminisce about the wonderful times we’ve had in six different countries over 19 years.
I’ll always remember the first time and the last time I saw you. The first time was at L’Oreal in London. You were the technical centre manager and I was the temp. You had long red hair with a fringe—only until one of the L’Oreal hairdressers took control! I forgot sometimes that you were nine years older than me. You’d had a whole life before we met. We were friends immediately, I think because we understood each other’s backgrounds, both being Kiwis. You were a hard worker; you were brilliantly funny but sensible at the same time. You were so private. Getting to know you was like unwrapping a present—first the wrapping paper, then the tissue and then opening the box. I was proud you chose me as your friend, that you let me unwrap you and be delighted at the gift of your friendship.
So then, the last time I saw you. It was on FaceTime and you were lying in your bed in Prague, ten days before you died. You lay against white pillows, a plump white duvet pulled up to your chin, against a white wall, luminescent skin and cropped strawberry blonde hair, barely there after all the treatment—a beautiful white angel. I’d had one of those awful, yelly, afternoons with my children and, as sick as you were, you gave me the best advice, as always. You were scared about going to Paris for treatment but knew you’d go. At one point you looked down at your hands, then said quietly, ‘I’m ready to go’, and I knew you were saying goodbye.
I couldn’t have loved you more at that moment. Your braveness astounded me.
And in between the first and the last times I saw you was every conceivable celebration—our weddings, the births of our children, and crisscrossing the globe for catch-ups. I am so grateful for the week our families had together at Castellet in 2014, where I was reminded that you were a wonderful mum, a great cook, still hilarious. It was wonderful to see that after years abroad, you’d found your home in that small village in Provence, surrounded by the lavender you so loved.
Be at peace, darling friend, and know that you will always be remembered.
Thank you for being my brilliant friend.