Its been over four months now since my oldest and best friend passed away. I have been wanting to write about her but I have been, and still am, in denial. I have written previously on the blog about her fight against leiomyosarcoma since her diagnosis in 2007. For the last four years I truly believed she would beat it - she fought it so hard and was always so positive that she was going to live. And she truly lived every last minute to the fullest. I can't even begin to describe how gracefully she lived her life, before the diagnosis but especially afterwards.
We flew over to Australia to see her when Lexie was six weeks old. I knew Andrea hadn't been going as well since the beginning of the year but from the other side of the world, the distance and some cheerful phone conversations allowed me to sometimes pretend that things weren't that bad, that she would get better. After all, I had seen her the previous October and there were no outward signs she was even ill at that stage. I thought that I probably had limited time to see her again, maybe until the end of the year. And I still had high hopes of a miracle. But something was telling me to go as soon as we could and I thought it would be better to see her while she was still ok.
When we arrived we went straight from the airport to see Andrea, Robert and Lewis as was tradition on any trip to Brissie and it was clear she was very ill. But after an hour or two of chatting with her I felt reassured. My best friend was just the same as always. We were making plans for our visit - a farm stay, high tea, trips to the beach. Two days later, on Tuesday we caught up again for a beautiful afternoon of lunch and chatting, talking about her plans for Lewis' upcoming 5th birthday party and looking at the photos from her 39th birthday party the month before. She held Lexie Andrea for a cuddle and gave me some gorgeous gifts for my birthday and for the girls. She was cracking jokes and being so damn witty, even though she had to lie down on the sofa and rest her eyes.
Unfortunately, that very night she took a turn for the worse and she passed away on Thursday morning. I was gutted, devastated and numb. I just wanted to scream "not yet". I had wanted to talk to her more about things while we were face to face - not that any amount of time would ever be enough for all the potential conversations. But I still shake my head in wonder when I think what a tiny little miracle it was that I got to see her and give her one last hug. When I am going over all those, "I could have done this, should have said that" in my head I think about that and am grateful.
I am also very grateful to have been there for her funeral which was an amazing celebration of her life. Her husband Robert and son Lewis were incredible and many friends and family spoke eloquently about what made her such a special person.
I recently received her "sweetie" bracelet that I had given her when she was bridesmaid at our wedding. I wore it all day and that night I had a dream that we were lying around sunbaking on sunloungers with friends. To add that dreamlike surrealness to the scene we were in the middle of a paddock on a farm. Not to mention Robbo never sunbaked a single minute in her life as far as I know. She looked like she had been ill but was on the mend - her body was no longer ravaged by cancer like it was when I last saw her. When I woke up I felt like she is gone but she hasn't gone very far.
Andrea and Lewis, Mooloolaba, 18 October 2010.