Thank you for your wonderful words following my last post. And, of course, for your magical-through-the-ether hugs.
I’ve struggled to write today’s post. At first, I followed my modus operandi of using language and imagery to avoid being specific. I wrote about how my chest feels heavy and numb at the same time, and how my throat feels like I can’t swallow.
I made a joke about how, clearly, I can swallow because I ate six Turkish Delight-flavoured Tim Tams in the space of ninety minutes last night. Then I deleted that paragraph too, because in truth I can’t even tell you what the biscuits tasted like. It just helped to focus on the sugar rush for a while.
I wrote and I deleted and I wrote and I deleted.
And then I found that all I could write, and keep, were the straight-true words within me.
My friend Jerome passed away this week, and while I know that the world isn’t fair, it shouldn’t be allowed to be this unfair. Jerome was 26. He was hilarious, kind, a brilliant musician, gorgeous, adventurous, braver than anyone should need to be, and not only someone I was proud to call my friend, but the first boy I ever had a crush on. And oh! what a crush it was. Five of my teenage years were devoted to anticipating Friday night rehearsals with Jerome, and the half-time breaks that involved making cups of tea with at least six spoonfuls of sugar stirred in, joking and laughing with him, his fabulous sister, and the other members of our ensemble.
I’m so grateful for the time I was able to spend with Jerome over the past few years. The hours spent sipping lemongrass tea, laughing, then talking intensely and passionately about social and food ethics, travel, love, anxieties and joys, shared memories, and what the next move was to be in fighting the cancer.
Hey Jerome, do you remember the time I arrived at the National Museum for our ensemble’s performance, and how I’d come straight from my work Christmas lunch where I’d had a little bit of beer? (Non-alcoholic beer, yes, ahem, because I was not quite 18.) Do you remember how you kept picking me up and spinning me around, and how you and your sister had to convince me that now was not a good time to play hide-and-seek? Do you remember how I disappeared, and how you found me scrunched up in the cupboard under the sink, because I’d decided we were going to play anyway? And how we laughed so much we ran out of breath?
Do you remember the phone calls we had back before we owned mobile phones? I remember getting in trouble from my dad for talking too long and tying up the landline.
I remember being at your engagement party last year, feeling utterly elated by your glowing happiness as you stood side-by-side with your gorgeous, effervescent fiancée, now wife. I remember when you both thwacked at the incredible gingerbread Sydney Opera House you’d made together with your families. I remember eating that gingerbread.
I remember your smile, Jerome.
I’ll miss you.