When somebody loves you

February 3, 2009

I have memories of Melbourne when it was a much smaller city than it is now. The place where I grew up, Lower Templestowe, used to be refereed to as “the sticks” because it was on the fringe. My family and I rarely went into the city, even though it was only a fifteen kilometre journey. The rare occasions were at Christmas time to see the Myer windows and when our father took us into his work substation in Carlton (he worked for what was called the Tramways Board back then).

There was no direct route from Lower Templestowe into the city back then. You had to drive through Kew and Richmond. Past the factories in Victoria Street Richmond the Skipping Girl Vinegar neon sign and Coppertone sign showing a dog pulling down a girls knickers were highlights of the drive. 

It was a big deal when the Eastern Freeway was built. It was massive to Melbourne standards. Four lanes each way and a good six kilometers long. I was fourteen when my friend Kaz and I decided to ride our push bikes along the freeway prior to its opening. We entered at its starting point off Bulleen Road, with no real plans about where we were heading. We took packed lunches. 

The freeway was smooth to ride on, quiet and pretty. It’s flanked by golf courses. We rode for a few kilometers before deciding to have lunch. We parked our bikes and hopped over the low fence onto one of the golf courses. Not knowing anything about golf, we chose a lovely mown circular patch of grass for our picnic. 

Kaz’ mother had a knack with oranges. She had a tool that cut the peel around its diameter. It was then possible to peel the oranges in two half circles. It was like magic really. The skins just peeled right off and retained their shape. You could put them back together again and it looked like a whole orange. Or you could put the half-oranges inside your top and it would look like you actually had tits! I can’t remember who did it first, but I do remember rolling around on the green laughing until I cried when Kaz paraded around with one inside her bike shorts against her crotch.

Now days, the freeway extends way beyond Bulleen Road and Melbourne extends so far beyond the suburb of my childhood that it is just about metropolitan. A lot has changed. Kaz left school to become a dental nurse. She married, had two daughters and moved to the country. I stayed on at school and went through uni. 

Despite only seeing Kaz a couple of times after we both had children, she sent me a christmas card every year. My kids don’t remember Kaz. They only know her as ‘the one who sends mum a Christmas card every year even though she never sends one back’. This is no reflection on the way I felt about Kaz. I just sucked at writing cards. When my kids were younger and before I went back to work I made the effort, enlisting the kids’ help like a production line. But I haven’t written one for years. The kids have wizened up and they have their own to write. Sometimes I send out group emails for Christmas but I didn’t have electronic contact details for Kaz.

On Saturday morning I received a phone call from one of our mutual friends to inform me that Kaz had passed away. “What? How could this happen?” I asked, possibly naively but definitely out of shock. After I listened to a description of the diseases that ended Kaz’ life, the caller and I shared an emotional moment. “She loved you Jenne”, I was told.

The first day I found out about Kaz’ death I was in shock. I had no way to express my grief. I was agitated and confused. On the second day, I was less emotional and felt a sudden renewed awe for life. On the third day (today) I bought a beautiful bunch of twenty mixed roses from the market spontaneously. “They’ll last longer in the heat if you cut the stems every few days and put ice in the water”, the florist told me. As I arranged the flowers at home I thought of Kaz. I don’t know how to grieve but having the flowers there as a representation seemed to help a lot.

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6 Responses to “When somebody loves you”

  1. Sorry for the loss of your friend. I think the roses are a wonderful way to remember someone – comfort and joy all in one.

  2. trousers said

    What charlotteotter said – I’m sorry too. I hope this poignant and beautifully written post has, in the act of writing it, helped you with your feelings in some way.

  3. Mennogirl said

    Ejenne, I just wanted to check to see if you and your family were doing okay. I have been reading about the destruction of the forest fires in Australia all week and thinking about you and Mirabella. Anyways I hope you are safe and sound and you will all be in my prayers.

  4. ejenne said

    Hi Charlotte and trousers. Thanks for your condolences. And yes writing the post helped. I have come across photos of Kaz and I on holidays together that I’d forgotten I had. I can look at them without crying now.

    Hi mennogirl. Thanks for your message and prayers. We’re safe. I’ll write to you on facebook xx

  5. kate said

    Your friend would have known you loved her too if she had read this. Flowers can make us feel better no matter what. Hope you are doing well.

  6. ejenne said

    Hi Kate! I love the photos of flowers that you’ve recently posted 🙂

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