(Nicci at the Bird Cafe in Bree Street. Pills and pain meds before coffee and cake.)
It's been two days since I saw you last. Jacques and I have spent the weekend at home. Cocooning. Being kind to one another. Maxi has made us laugh with his antics and constant demands to play. The sun is shining and I wish it wouldn't. But I'm wearing turquoise today. Jacques commented on it, he's so tired of my basic black. I'm trying to decide on what to wear for your funeral this week. You told me I had to wear colour and I warned you that you had to stay alive a little while longer, because I'm too fat for brights. Weirdly enough, I thought I'd be thinner by the time you died. As if it mattered, as if you wouldn't want my body with all it's flaws, with my round belly, and too-round thighs and cellulite-in the-bad-light-legs instead of your own leukemia-ridden, painful body. And I felt so guilty about my own issues, my own sadness at your dying. You had to live with it. I was only a witness.
I told you on Friday that your life would not go unnoticed. Did you hear me, my darling? I thought I saw you trying to focus on my face and your breath changed. But perhaps it was only the morphine...I hope you heard me. I hope you heard me tell you that during these last four years of your life, four years in which you battled adversity, and grief, and heartbreak, and pain with such style, you still brought me and those who loved you such joy. So much laughter. So much happiness.
Connie arrived at the hospital, but by then you had already gone. She was clutching orange blossoms from their garden because she wanted you to smell them one more time before you died. It was the saddest thing. I hope you caught their fragrance as your spirit left us. That this is the scent you will remember.
I know there will be a wake for you this week, with lots of flowers and alcohol. Because you've left strict instructions to do so. I hope you'll watch over us that you aren't too busy catching up with your dad, and your sister-in-law and the grandma into whose grave you poured a bottle of gin and a few cans of tonic. It will be a shame to miss a party dedicated to you. God, I'm being stupid, you'll be there, you liked the fuss and drama way too much to miss it. Remember the afternoon we laughingly planned your funeral, how you said that if you were going to die, you wanted it to be a Visi-affair. And then how we cried with laughter at the macabre thought of Sumien, and Cornelia and Tina-Marie hauling fabric swatches around trying to match your deathly pallor, and the manic styling of it all, and Johan penning beautiful words? You adored those creative people, loved working with them all.
A few of us got together on our roof on Friday night, one by one your friends arrived carrying bottles of wine. We ordered take-away pizza and we cried and we laughed and we spoke of you. Then Douw got out his phone to call you. Before we remembered. And then things got a bit quieter for a while. Sadder. Bianca and Sonja and Plush smoked a lot. Rather desperately. And Jacques drank too much. I felt disconnected. But we toasted you. And your life. And your laughter. And the colour that always surrounded you. And we realized that each and every one around the table had met one another through you. Thank you for that Flower Girl.
It was a gorgeous, warm spring night. And we stayed up there on the roof till the early hours of the morning. But the stars weren't out. There was a light cloud covering them. All night long. As if the heavens were grieving as well. As if the earth's loss was so profound that the stars dimmed their light out of respect for our sadness.
They were out again last night. I guess by then you'd arrived. And that they could no longer contain their joy at your presence. I remember how that felt...
Travel well, my brave and beautiful friend. We miss you.