This is going to be quite a self-indulgent posting and I am not apologizing about that. I am finding this journalling process very cathartic and helpful to my chronic depressive state. Went shopping with my two daughters yesterday, Nat and Taz (Tarynne - but us Aussies have a horrible prediliction for shortening everyone's name, and often adding and O at the end). Accompanied, of course, by the two most beautiful children in the universe, my grandsons Dylan and Kieran (soon to be known as Dyl and Kier, or Dylo and Kiero and yes, I did point that out to their mother, but the young already know everything). Now, getting to the nub of this tale, my youngest, Taz casually informed me that :"Oh, by the way, Mum, did you know a Sue B.? Well she died." This woman was only my best friend in high school and we frequented each others homes like a bad smell between the ages of 14 and 18. Poor old Taz had no idea of course, how would she as we have since moved half a world away and I have only kept infrequent contact with Susan on the very rare occasion I have gone back to Canberra for a visit. These are usually solo trips as the family are quite scornful about the place (in the usual way of young people), nothing to do there, it's boring, it isn't a real city etc etc. So my immediately bursting into a flood of tears must have shocked the life out of her, not to mention Dylan next to me in his car seat, who tried to distract me by talking about trucks.
Last night, I was almost sleepless because, when something like that happens to you, not only does your own mortality hit you, but you keep revisiting those times you spent together. Susan was affectionately known as Sue-boo (highly original) and she was the second youngest of eight children. Her family were warm and kind and ALWAYS laughing. There was a large group of about 10 girls who hung out together (all girl Catholic high) and we were all of the same type. Highly amused by anything and everything, including plots to kill off some of the ancient nuns who "taught" us, even tho they should have been permanently posted to St Aloysius Home for Nun Senility. We had a music teacher we called Fang, because she had rather unfotunate eye teeth. We all hated music and usually waited til she sat at her piano to talk and laugh instead of singing (actually,Susan sang, because she was a bit of a goodie two-shoes in front of the nuns). She would turn around, instantly pick out the offenders and they would spend the rest of the lesson standing at the back of the room (laughing quietly). It took ages for us to discover that she could easily see us all in the reflection of that highly polished piano. Susan wanted to be a "good" girl, but we were determined to sabotage that goal, so we would convince her to skip weekly Mass and join us smoking on the sports bleachers (until we got caught and suspended) or nick out of the last class of the day and walk into the nearby city. She was always petrified, but laughing with the rest of us us we hoiked our ugly skirts up to our thighs, abandoned our compulsory hats and gloves and headed for the nearest ladies room to smother ourselves with truckloads of makeup that did little or nothing for our fresh young faces. They were such innocently naughty days - I mean we didn't do anything really bad - unlike the girl who had been expelled from the Church of England Grammar who was a compulsive shoplifter, even tho her family was wealthy. She tried to ally herself with us, but quickly found out that we did have our limits and weren't in her league. I recall that the only moment of sobriety in my senior high school years was attending the funeral of a classmate who had been tragically decapitated whilst out in a car with her boyfriend. It seems just a blur now, but I can still see the boy at the funeral (God, we were all only 17) with his arm in a cast and his face a sickly shade of white.
Susan married straight out of high school and straight away had 5 children. She and her husband had their struggles, of course as you do in the early years, but they always seemed to be happy and well matched. Imagine her shock when he told her after 25 years that he was in love with another woman and wanted a divorce. She told me she never saw it coming, God bless her for the naive and trusting sould she was. Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I saw her about, I think, 5 years ago just after the big bushfires in Canberra when we had dinner with one of our other closest friends, Debbie. Sue had had chemo and radiotherapy and her hair had just started to grow back. She told us that the doctors had given her a reasonably positive prognosis, but every now and then, she has popped into my head. Of course I feel extremely guilty about not keeping in contact and I won't make excuses about that, except to say that we all become so consumed with the various paths our lives take as we get older, that it becomes harder and harder to keep all the balls in the air at once. (For me, anyway, that is true. I find that I can't even finish a novel - let alone a project since the depression splatted on top of me. Or maybe it's a side effect of the morphine?)
So - plan for the day is to aggressively launch myself at my art and hopefully have something to show at days end. It was so lovely to have Dylan yesterday afternoon even though he's still recuperative after a bad bout of chest infection. His endless chatter is distracting and so comforting. I get to have him again tomorrow from lunchtime to the next morning and that really is something to look forward to. So, while I might in some way envy my friend that she has made the passage to a better life(don't be scared folks it's only the big black beast that talks like that), how could I possibly go anywhere that my beautiful kids and my little angels are not?