As a child, I lived on a dairy farm. We had prize winning goats. While it wasn’t the happiest of childhoods, there are some good memories. Let us just leave it at that. However I did make some wonderful friendships, some of which lasted a lifetime.
Across the road, one of the children had the same birthday as me. We had another neighbour Nigel. He, my sister and I would chase the (non-native) cane toads and spear them with sticks. (I shudder when I think of it now). Sometimes our friend Sandy would join us in our hunting. She lived on the other side of the gully. Her family owned a banana plantation. They were like a second family – our Uncle and Aunt. We kept in touch with the family even after we moved away to ‘the city’. Sandy was one of my sister’s best friends and they were as thick as thieves, even as adults.
This year I was told that Sandy had cancer. A nasty one. Having moved interstate many years ago, I could not be there for her. My sister supported her, visited her and sat with her. A few months ago, my sister phoned. They were coming to visit Adelaide as Sandy had always wanted to see the pandas. The zoo had other ideas; the pandas were locked away on a breeding programme (which was unsuccessful).
In the end they visited Sydney, even making an appearance on a national morning TV show, Sunrise. They had got their trip. Sandy had a great time. I am so sad that she did not get to see her beloved pandas and that I did not get the chance to say goodbye.
Mum rang this morning to let me know that my friend Sandy passed away in the early hours. My sister had seen her yesterday and she was with her family.
Today I am in mourning. I am remembering an old friend. I am thinking of her young family and how they must be missing her. I am thinking of my sister who has lost a best friend and cohort – - in her 40s – all too young.
Though we mourn for our loss, Sandy is now free of pain. She is going home.