They always come too soon. There never seems to be enough time, and as much as you try to prepare for them (at least the ones you can anticipate) they always leaving you feeling a little more breathless than you would have imagined. Goodbyes are painful, naturally I’m not referring to the “see you later” goodbyes you say to those you expect to see tomorrow, I’m talking about the “hold me tight for a moment more”, the “I don’t want tomorrow to come’s”, and the hardest of all, the “I am not ready to say goodbye, because I know there will never be another hello’s”. In the last 3 months, I have had to, through tears and pursed lips endure all of these types of goodbyes, and even if you try you can never really adequately prepare for them. Mostly because one can never imagine being so abundantly blessed by something or should I say someone(s), that saying goodbye is so unbelievably difficult.
You often hear people say that everyone grieves in different ways, that it takes time, that we should be aiming to celebrate the time we had, and I know this to be true, it makes sense and I know why people say these things. However right now, I just feel like saying…well to be honest something that’s probably not appropriate for public viewing, although Catherine would just say “go for it”. So, instead I’ll start with this, a letter to Catherine, whom I am still not ready to say goodbye to.
There is so much to tell you, so many things I want to say, and not because I ever held back with you, or ever hesitated to bare my soul to you, but because it dawned on my today that I will never get to sit, chat and laugh with you again, at least not in this life. Which, in my opinion is pure bullshit. I mean seriously, we both know that I need you here, I need to remind me of certain things, I need you kick my arse when I am being a princess, to make me scrambled eggs with too much salt but without mushrooms when I am sad, to yell at me for hemming my pants with mending tape and my terrible taste in…well a few things, I need you here to smoother me with hugs and kisses, to tackle me to the ground, to listen to me vent about whatever thing is pissing me off in that moment, to make me milo’s Brownscombe style, to challenge my thinking, question my motives, encourage me, inspire me, love me. But mostly I need you here so that this gapping huge whole in my heart and life doesn’t echo back at me every time I call out to you. I know that these are all completely selfish things, mostly that’s because the real reason I need you here makes your absence seem so much more unfair. You, my girl, are beauty and colour and vibrancy personified, and in my opinion just weren’t here in this place long enough. And that’s not because you didn’t get enough time to love, live, give, create and receive, it’s because this place just isn’t quite as beautiful without you in it, and because there are so many people who just miss you so much.
You never had any concept of how amazing you are, how beautiful, talented, gifted or influential, it broke my heart that you didn’t but it’s who you are, always insistent of praising and complimenting and seeing the best in everyone but failing to see it in yourself. I feel so unbelievable blessed that I got to live with you, in our little house that was so cold we often just slept in the same bed to stay warm, and sat snuggled on the couch watching reruns of Smallville or Aquamarine for the ten millionth time. I got to see so much of who you are in that time, the love you have for your family and friends, your creative talents, your fears and weaknesses, your dreams and hopes, and your heart that I already knew was the size of Texas and then some. I was in Melbourne recently visiting Naomi and my “special friend”, the one I told you about, and it was the first time I was able to recall memories of you without bursting into tears, hahaha remember our trip there, and our shenanigans in Myer, that may have still been called Grace Brothers then. CJ you brought so much pure, unadulterated joy and love into my life, and somehow managed to give me enough in such a short time (almost 8 years) that will last me a life time. It’s almost as if I have this old film playing over in my mind of all the insane, refreshing, exhilarating, ridiculous adventures we went on together, remember sleeping in the back of your car that night on the edge of the cliff at Gerroa, we got saturated in the rain and the car smelled like wet dog the whole trip home. Or the time we went camping and you didn’t change the whole weekend and your BO managed to literally make me get out of the car and throw up on the side of the road. I will never forget driving back from Shalvey before my first day of prac, and you spilt raspberry ice block all down your shirt so we stopped on some back road in Orchard Hills and decided it was perfect weather for a photo shoot in long grass. You looked so beautiful, and despite the absolute absurdity of the whole situation those photographs are beyond priceless.
We sure have had our fair share of insane, crazy and inspired moments haven’t we? Moments that no one can take from us, that are just ours, but you know, my favourite ones, are the ones where we would sit snuggled in your bed, when you were wearing oversized hoodies and pyjama pants with odd socks and usually rather racey underwear because we both know how much you loved a myer’s sale, drinking hottie c’s and talking about all the things that made our hearts race, ache, angry, hurt and swell with love. Catherine, you inspire me, to be a better person, to love more faithfully, to be loyal and never settle. Your faith was always unwavering and your righteous anger towards hypocrisy and inconsistency in the church stirred me. Your connection with God and desire to move past all the bull crap and discover love on a level most people never even bother to seek always left me amazed. You are quite possibly the most loyal friend I have ever met, and that’s not just to me, that’s just who and how you are with everyone you love. You are talented beyond belief and if I am honest I was jealous of you in that sense, your capacity to pour all of who you are into whatever you were doing is something most people seldom achieve even if they try.
You’re beautiful beyond description, the type of classic beauty that when you smiled you lit up a room, you are loud and demanded the attention of those around you without even realising it because your vibrancy and fullness of life was uncontainable. I have never met anyone like you Catherine Jane and I doubt I ever will. You are irreplaceable and unforgettable, those who know you have had the blessing of being a part of such a rare treasures life, and those who didn’t will never be able to comprehend or understand what it is they missed out on, but I guarantee their lives will never be as bright as you made mine. Most people Catherine, will go their entire lives and never accomplished what you have in your short 28 years, I don’t think I know anyone else who will have left so many incredibly beauty legacies behind, covered in a love so pure and rich that anyone who has a part of you in whatever capacity whether an artwork, a memory, a piece of clothing or whatever form it was you gave of yourself, well, their lives are irrevocably altered forever.
Thank you, for being my number one fan (next to my mum), for loving me, for letting me be a part of your story, for making me my “right arm” when Jesse moved to Canada, for taking me as your date to Ange and Alex’s wedding when I couldn’t physically be there in person, for mending my bra’s when I couldn’t afford to buy new ones, for hugging me so tight that I was sure I would burst, for gentling encouraging me to get back up when I fell down, for never allowing me to wallow in self-pity to the point of destruction, for believing in me and my art, for challenging me and my faith, for never allowing me to walk alone through any of life’s trials, for fighting with me when it was important enough, for feeding my terrible tv and movie tastes, for giving of yourself so unassumingly and never expecting anything in return, for your time, your grace, your joy and all that you are, thank you for being my friend, my sister, my counsellor, my advisor, the peanut butter to my jam, the Mary-Kate to my Ashley, the Buzz to my Woody and so much more, but above all else, thank you for the abundance of love you gave me that I will never forget or be able to repay.
My life was so much richer for having you in it, and my laugh for while will be lonely without yours, but the memories you’ve left me with will do for now, until we meet again someday, someway, somehow, and until that time “I’ll carry your heart, I’ll carry it in my heart”.
I love you Catherine Jane, dance with your Dad and remember that your place in my life and heart will never ever be filled.
All the love in my heart,