There’s this song I’ve heard occasionally over the past year, and it makes me think of you every time. I’m not sure what it is and why it conjures your face, but it definitely has a general Lu Lu vibe about it. Don’t worry, we all still want to shag Matt Corby, but he makes us cry now as well.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since you left us. We weren’t ready. We’re still not.
The funny thing about a whole year is that sometimes it seems like such a long time, but then it’s all so fast as well. It seems like I have blinked and woken up to a day that I don’t want to be reminded of. It has crept up on us all with speed and menace.
So much has happened in the last 365 days.
Day one without you, and I ran. It was a cold morning – the air was sharp and I ran to try and push the grief away, until my body and my lungs ached. To feel alive and to feel sore. I ran until I puked. And then I cried till I was dry.
Your funeral was beautiful and terrible. A procession of firies honoured you by laying an evergreen branch on your casket. Handsome uniformed folk, paying tribute to your memory. The bagpipes played, and along the racecourse straight a guard of honour formed for you and your family. If only you knew what an effect you had on all those people sniffling in the autumn sun.
I quit my job after you died. Gave up bossiness, and business-class and books to find something that meant more and gave me more time with my little family. I even had an interview for a CFA job with District 13. But I fucked it up… to much riding on it I suppose. I eventually found something else, and even though payday can’t come quick enough, I now get to share chicken nuggets and spaghetti Bolognese and bedtime and kinder duty and quiet moments on the couch with the ones I love the most.
Gav and Sally organised a fundraiser for Ella. It was monumental. There was trivia and an auction and donations and games. I walked out on stage dancing with Gav, grabbed a microphone and hosted part of the evening in what was the most exhilarating and heartbreaking experience I’ve come to know. There were 400 guests and a waiting list, all contributing to Ella’s future. Because we all needed a reason to carry on, a project to manage the grief, and an opportunity to remember the good you gave to us. I wish you could’ve been there. But on some level I suspect you were, because Gav and Sal and I all dreamt vividly of you that night.
You won a National Emergency Medal for your work on Black Saturday. Gav and Ella graciously accepted the accolade on your behalf in the most bittersweet of circumstances. And they glowed with pride.
On New Year’s Eve I stood alone in the front yard, gulping champagne and watching fireworks from a distance. Each bang and crackle hurt my eyes, and I sought comfort in a woman who has known the pain of loss herself – too often. And it helped, a tiny bit, resting in her arms.
Ella turned 12, graduated primary school, started high school, and moved to the country with your Mum. She is extraordinary your daughter. Together she, your Mum and a funny little brown poodle have formed a new team, and they are a force to be reckoned with.
Your nieces started primary school, Eva perfected her hula-hooping, your nephew Hudson was born, and a song was dedicated to you in front of a sell-out crowd at a folk festival. Three nights in a row. The drummer cried each time.
The thing is Lu, there have been ordinary and remarkable days over this past year. But no matter what sort of day it is, there are these moment that sneak up on you. Like a kick to the crotch they get you quick and hard. Get you breathless and gasping. Missing you.
I miss your smell of soft perfume, and cigarettes and lollies.
I miss your vague text messages that always came a day too late.
I miss fighting for mirror space between all of us girls, trying to put on our makeup.
I miss touching toes with you on the couch.
I miss our cheeks sticking together during a hug.
I miss seeing you and Gavin hold hands.
I miss watching you stroke Ella’s hair absentmindedly.
It’s unbearable not knowing where you are. Or knowing that you are nowhere. It’s like you’re just out of focus on the edge of a picture, I keep looking expecting it to become clearer.
And yet the year rolls on…