Archive for the ‘death’ Category

I’m back from holidays to a rainy, overcast summer’s day. Everywhere is green and teeming with life; one minute the sun is struggling through clouds, the next, slight sprinkles remind me of the vagaries of the weather. My herb garden has strawberries in it, and lots of mint. For once the basil is looking like it will ‘get off the ground’ and the oregano has sprouted flowers. Everything is growing, reminding me that things rarely stay the same.

We arrived back a day early from our beachside holidays, mainly to avoid facing high winds and heavy rain while we decamped. A monsoonal trough off the south east coast of Australia meant that we had few fine days, so instead we went exploring, walking and taking in the sights and sounds of the area. Coming back a day early meant I was around for the phone call that informed me a very old friend had passed away on Sunday night. I should have known the number when the phone rang. He used to joke that he had 666 in it, the number, of course, of the devil.

My friend had been diagnosed with cancer a little over two months ago. Inoperable, he didn’t fight but rather chose to ease himself into his passing with dignity and grace. I can’t imagine the courage it must take to do this. Of course, I have spent the last 24 hours recalling almost 15 years of close friendship and meaningful times. I remember his determination to be different from others, to take on society with irreverence and make us all think. He was a ‘bridesmaid’ at my wedding, arguing that as a close mate of mine he had the right to stand beside me on my wedding day. Touche Charles, I gave into your request and you stood there in a tuxedo that perfectly matched that of my bridesmaid’s dresses.

In my 20’s and 30’s, he was a prominent part of my life. He introduced me to my husband and as a result I have settled in a town I barely glanced at as I used to travel through, for 25 years. Three sons followed and he is godfather to my second.

We met as journalists in a newsroom and together we pursued the stories of substance. Good news’ values, the old ways, meant we were breaking stories long before our metropolitan counterparts. We believed in getting the real story others would want hidden. My friend always had a lot to say and he began a column called ‘Mindscape’. It encouraged people to go within for meaning, to explore the deep realms of spirituality and to trust themselves to step off a conventional track and find the ‘more’ in life. He was considered quite radical in a regional country town that boasted the finest Merino wool in Australia and is variously known as Australia’s ‘FIrst Inland City’.

Through many afternoons and into the evenings, we yarned about all sorts of things. He was a writer like me and together we explored our ambitions to write novels. His partner told me yesterday he had almost finished another edit of his first book. He had remarked to her only weeks ago that it was finally ready for publishing. I hope this work is published. I read an early draft years ago and was riveted to it, as you get when a good book finds its way to you.

In the early hours of this morning, I lay awake remembering my friend. I was both perplexed and saddened that yet another friend had gone too early in the past six months, people I expected to be around for the rest of my life. I wondered about the lessons and I decided this: Life is a beautiful gift that can be taken away prematurely. Every moment is to be savoured and lived as best we can, with joy and gratitude, peace and compassion. The other thought that was uppermost is the value of friendships; that friends help make the meaning in life. They are there for the discoveries, the victories and the losses. If you’re lucky they are there on a good deal of your exploration journey.

Friendship should never be taken for granted because a good friend is irreplaceable.

RIP Charles. Fondly and gratefully remembered.

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