I haven’t been on my blog (or planet earth), for several weeks. It is due to my dear friend, Serena. Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you how it all began. I was at a local park with my daughter eight years ago. The Jacaranda’s were out, and the rose gardens in full bloom. A lady -with hair assembled from the shavings of fragrant cedar- was at the playground with her little boy. She smiled as I approached, and spoke in a delicate English accent. I fell in love with her on sight. Her son and my daughter would hold hands in my car as I drove us around. They did gymnastics together, celebrated each other’s birthdays and local festivities. Serena was a teacher, who had changed children’s lives in the small county from where she came. She had squirreled away her money, and travelled the world. Oh, the adventures she went on, and the beauty she saw! She went around Australia, finally settling in Sydney. She had her little boy, then another blessed bub. She wrote stories, dreamt, and was loved by all who met her. She didn’t take life, nor herself, too seriously, and marched to a different beat. Her dance had an elegance to it, and was certainly independent of choreography.
We shared many wonderful escapades, drinking cocktails with friends, seeing shows and movies. I would usually smuggle in a flask for us to share. She earthed this flighty fairy. She loved this country, though gravitated to New Zealand more than once. I think it reminded her of home. We shared our hearts, our homes, our lives. A month ago, I received a message that she had been rushed to hospital. It was her heart. I knew this was perilous. Her father and aunt had succumbed to a rare heart disease, and we all prayed Serena wouldn’t present with symptoms. Even in hospital, she was directing us all not to make a fuss. There was nothing she needed. When talk turned to a heart transplant she was as brave as she had always been. I had some marvellous talks with her. She was always interested in your life, asking how you were, what the children were up to. It wasn’t surprising that her heart worked too hard. It overflowed with love and compassion.
Our darling fought, my, how she fought. She was transferred to St Vincent’s, and had a wondrous visage from her bed of our beautiful city. She was relieved. One step closer to a transplant. To having more time. It was after midnight when her beautiful heart stopped. The staff did everything they could. Serena was gone… She had taken off her glass slippers, teetering out of the room. Gone in the small hours, not wanting to make a fuss. You will always be with us. You changed us, putting everything into perspective, especially the holiday season. It is about holding your loved one’s close, comforting your two little boys and your beautiful mother, who has flown over from the UK, and understanding what a tenuous grip we have on this precious, painful, wondrous life. I am finding it hard to catch my breath with the burden of grief I am left with. So many share this grief. Our town holds so many memories. Wherever I go, there you are. You will always be there, my dear, sweet friend. You lived a full life, the half you were allotted. I will complete the journey on your behalf. When I am eighty (twice your age), I promise to imbibe Bailey’s and raise my glass to you.
To make a donation to the Victor Chang Institute, which is doing extraordinary work in the fight against heart disease, please click on the link above. xxx