Losing my Best Friend

Dear friend,

I don’t know why you left me. I don’t know what happened that turned you away.

I don’t know the thought processes that went in to making the decision you made.

I don’t know if you agonized, rationaled, or seesawed with emotion, or if you simply said ‘over’.

I don’t know if you were led, deceived or misinformed. I don’t know if there were preceding events, or if I simply failed in meeting your expectations.  I don’t know if I let you down.

I simply don’t know.

I do know we were friends – closer than sisters – for over 30 years.

And then we weren’t.

From the age of 6 and 8, respectively, you and I, we were almost inseparable. From the day your brother knocked over our back fence so we could talk without peering through the pickets, we were peers. We danced. We laughed. We kissed boys. We sang to the same bands, our hairbrushes synchronised with our hotpants as we emulated Agneta and Annifrid,  Dancing Queens.

I knew when you first had a boy friend. I knew when you first did it, and was both at once startled and stimulated when you did it again. I mopped up the pieces when he broke your heart.  You cried, I cried, then we went to see Grease and ate malteasers and ice cream.

You taught me to shave my legs, pluck my eyebrows and inhale without coughing. I taught you how to do your hair so it covered your ears.

I was there when you first shoplifted. You were there when I had my first period. The rites of passage, we shared together, first you, then me, but always together.  I was there when your sister hit you. You were there when my dad hit me. I yelled at your sister. You yelled at my dad. Together we vowed – no one would hit us when we were adults. No one.

We were so brave.

I do know the exact moment when I realised that you had gone.

It was there, in the funeral home.

The first time we had been in the same place, at the same time, for over a decade.  We were there because we had both lost the same somebody. You walked towards me, my arms raised, ready for the warm hug I had missed. Yes, you returned the embrace – but it was cool, perfunctory, brief.

It confused me.

It was like being hit.

I looked for solace in your eyes, but your eyes didn’t want to look into mine. They darted away of their own accord and busied themselves watching nearby relatives.

I could have asked.

You could have told.

But neither one of us were brave.

I’d been gone for a long time. 15 years goes by so quickly when life gets in the way. You had married again, your girls – the ones that learned to walk in my house –  are now fully grown, beautiful women.  I  had a child, creating life at around the same time as you were setting teenagers off to find their own wings.

I always was that few steps behind you.

I just didn’t realise the gap had grown so damn wide.

That was three years ago, friend. It’s taken me this long to write you this letter. I didn’t know the words. I didn’t understand the feelings. I guess, also, I hoped that if I let it be, it wouldn’t be broken.

But it is.

I don’t know how to fix it.

But I do know one thing.

I miss you.


(edit: Published iviilage May 2013)

The Old Piano

… love is called… my old piano… his eighty eight key smile… is so pleasant to see…

Apologies, Diana Ross.

But I do love it.

Because, like most things old, or shabby, or a little well-loved, it has a story.

This upright came from the school where I teach. It was the first piano used by the first teacher in the single class pre-school in the early 1940s. Back then, the classes were still being held in a council hall. In the early 1950’s the piano was moved to the new school building, where it remained until a few weeks ago.

It was a teaching piano, and this is still so clearly evident by years of little coloured dots, (and in later years, stickers) placed on certain keys.

The top opens, the front lifts off and the keyboard hinged cover (which probably has a name!?) also comes off, opening the piano face to the world.

I would use this to show the children how, when a key is pressed, the hammer hit string.

How many countless teachers before me also taught this?

In the 11 years I have taught in my present school, this piano has been used only for play. It’s a little out of tune and has one sticky key.

And no one wanted it anymore. So it’s come to live at my house.

I have vacuumed about a kilogram of dust from the old wood, gently scraped away paint spills and glitter and blu tac. I have polished coffee cup rings and taken, very gently, to the keys.

Then, I will French polish it.

Tomorrow, a tuner/restorer is coming to tune up the piano and give me some history on what he thinks is part of the original series of Education Department issue pianos during the depression.

Stay tuned.

Ticked Off

Y’all may recall how, 3 weeks ago,  we tired of the boggy driveway and ran away with the camper trailer. Y’all may recall the skipper trying to turn the 4X4 into a floatation device at the time.

But one thing I didn’t share with you, was the amount of kangaroo ticks that were about. The kangaroos did, however.

Share, that is.

The ticks, that is.

I brushed a few off myself, removed one from inside TFMs ear with tweezers, and checked, I thought, rather diligently when we returned to boggyville.

However on Friday, TFM came to me to show me a lump that had developed just under his shoulder-blade.

So a quick late trip to the GP on Friday afternoon, and TFM was quickly scheduled for day surgery at 8.30 this morning, to have what the GP thought may have been a tick, beneath his skin, removed from the centre of his back. The poison was supposedly in his lymphatic system.

Over the weekend, his lymph nodes swelled more, although he felt well and presented as typical 13 year old.

So at 8.00 this morning, we fronted up for surgery.

2 ibuprofen, a local, another local and a scalpel and it was all over by 10.00 AM. A wobbly legged teen was allowed to leave as long as his parents promised him pancakes. (We substituted French toast with maple, bananas and bacon).

We should know tomorrow if it was, indeed, a burrowed tick or not.