On Wednesday 7th May 2014, I told a friend a silly story of my childhood. Of Wizard of Oz Games with my cousins, where I played the Lion because I liked to say ‘put em up,’ ‘put em up.’ Where Carrie played the witch because she was the most skilled method actor, and where Sally played Dorothy, because… well because she was the boss. Each and every time we claimed our roles, and knew our lines. Got into character. And there you were, trotting along on your hands and knees down the stone driveway – the ever-faithful (and speechless) Toto. You were always the ever-faithful, quiet one. The amiable. The kind.
On Wednesday the 7th May 2014, we lost you Lu Lu.
As children we played till the sky grew dark, and our Mums grew cross. Born in ’82 there was just nine months between you and Regan and eight months between Carrie and I; we were closer than just cousins.
You were a sweet toddler, and a warm child with tomato sauce on your cheeks, Cheezel dust on your fingers, and a hyper colour T-Shirt slung over your bathers.
With just one boy in the family, you were often relegated to play the role of Prince Charming or my boyfriend – despite your desire to wear the high heels and fur coats too. While our ‘dating’ play seems a little strange now, at the time, the game meant little more than being ‘grown up’ eating our spaghetti bolognaise at a big table, WITH A CLOTH, and a FLOWER and a CANDLE! During the meal I always pushed your Mum’s spaghetti to the side of the plate, and you did the same to my Mum’s dish. Another Mum’s recipe was simply never the same.
In our twenties we saw each other often. My fondest memories are of us eating deep fried anything, watching terrible horror movies adding our own narration. Bumming smokes, and drinking Bacardi, solving the problems of the world in the cold winter air.
On one of our few ‘kid free’ nights we celebrated a birthday in the city. An apartment on Southbank, a meal of Chinese dumplings, a bucket of cheap wine, and a ghost tour of old Melbourne Gaol. The tour guide (a b-grade actor dressed as prison warden) was interested in our welfare and our experience at the Gaol. Wanted to make it authentic, and spooky and scare our girly pants off. That, and stare at our boobs. You showed your naivety then Lu Lu. While Carrie and I laughed into our palms and briskly tried to escape his weirdness – you asked more questions. Wide eyed, spooked and intrigued. Thankfully you also wore a scarf!
We giggled in fits, as you and Carrie tried on a Ned Kelly mask, staged a bag snatching, arrest, and murder – all in costume (meant for school excursion visitors) until we were politely asked to move on by our pervy, but clock watching, guide.
One of your favourite quotes; just for shits and giggles, explains many of our actions and activities. They weren’t ground-breaking, or law-breaking or trail blazing or unique. But shit… we had some laughs.
When Ella took us all by surprise and entered this world on my birthday, you gave her my name as her middle. Unselfishly, you wished me a happy birthday, while I sat awestruck at your new baby girl, your calm and your love for that little mystery bundle, who had become your everything in just a moment.
The kindness and warmth you demonstrated as a child never waned. As a young woman, you believed in justice, in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and in seeing the good in people – even when they didn’t always deserve it. You were a devoted aunty, niece and sister. You were compromising, gentle, thoughtful and clever.
The last time I saw you, you were pretty, and smiling, and serene. We waxed lyrical on a hot summer’s night about your sister’s happiness, the CFA, destination weddings, our girls, and our futures. You were loved that night, on that special occasion – although I forgot to tell you so.
If I had that evening again, I would have not rushed a goodbye hug. I would have kissed you twice, and held your slender fingers, and told you that you were beautiful, and to take care of yourself, get some rest, and I’ll see you soon. And I would have made sure I did.
I am so sorry Lu Lu. Sorry that I let inconsequential shit get in the way of a phone call or bad Thai takeaway and simple ‘how are ya?’ I’m sorry I didn’t understand just how unwell you were. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you how much I wanted you to get better.
I’m sorry that I can’t help plan your hen’s night and make you wear a penis tiara. I’m sorry that I can’t make fun of you in a wedding speech, and I’m sorry I don’t know Gavin well because he was so special to you. I’m sorry that you won’t see Ella as a young woman because I know she will make you proud, and I’m sorry you won’t lament your wrinkles, or hold a grandchild, or have too many candles to blow out on a birthday cake. But most of all, I am just sorry. Sorry that your body was too tired and worn out. Sorry that you have gone and we can’t have you back. Sorry to say goodbye. So late.