Tuesday .... I was on my way to work. Running late, as usual. I was going across the bridge over the M4 on Mamre Rd. The phone rang, and I almost didn't answer it ... I was driving, so I usually just let it go to message bank, but something made me check who it was. As soon as I saw my sister's name, my heart sank. She told me that Shelley had been unresponsive that morning, and they'd had to call the MET team. A quick change of plans, and a call to work ... before I knew it, I was at the hospital. It was way too familiar an experience. My mum was already there, talking to our cousin, who runs the Oncology ward there. Shelley was conscious, but really struggling. She was in an out all day ... awake, but not really lucid. Obviously very distressed, and in a lot of pain. One of her sisters was there too, another was on her way, and the third was getting ready to drive from Bourke. It was a long emotional day. Shelley's sons were there, looking as shell-shocked as I've ever seen them. My sister was holding it all together. Some special friends gathered, and were just legends. A bit after 7pm tuesday night, everyone else left the room. Shelley and Lorraine were in the room by themselves, with a nurse. And Shelley left this world the way she wanted to - with no fuss, quickly, and with the love of her life by her side.
I rang Dennis straight away, and Kieran could tell without being told what had happened. I stayed with Lorraine until after midnight ... a trip back to her place to put Bella-Rai to bed, have drink, then head back to the hospital to wait for Shelley's other sister, who was still travelling from Bourke. We didn't want to tell her over the phone, and we really wanted to be there when she found out. After spending a bit of time with Shelley, and seeing her so peaceful, it was time to leave. It was hard for Lorraine to walk out that door, and I can't even imagine what it must have been like for her.
Wednesday morning, we had to tell the girls. They lost it, understandably. Tayla said "why does this keep happening to us?" How do you answer that? I have no idea .... it's too hard for me to get my head around, so how do I expect a 6 year old to? They've been coping as ok as can be expected. We had the funeral on Friday, just like Shelley wanted. I spent Thursday night organising and editing photos of Shelley for the slideshow. It was so hard - to see that beautiful smile, the funny faces, and all the wonderful memories, and know that we weren't going to have any more of these. Even harder was getting ready to head off to the funeral. What a beautiful service though. Lots of pink - the guys in our family were wearing pink ties, we were all wearing rainbow ribbon pins, as well as pink ribbons in honour of all those fighting breast cancer. A beautiful photo, along with some special keepsakes sitting on top of the coffin. Shelley's biker bear and stuffed motorbike. Some beautiful words by one of the kids from the Cottage, the OOSH centre Lorraine runs, and that Shelley used to work at before she got too sick. Wonderful memories. Some VERY Shelley music. And a beautiful Bella-Rai, dancing in the aisle, wandering around and saying hello to everyone she loved.
Afterwards, we all went back to the Cottage for a celebration of a wonderful life. Kelsey and Tayla said that we had to have fairy bread - Aunty Shelley almost wouldn't come to one of Tay's birthday parties one year, because we weren't having fairy bread, so we had to make some so she would come. I think it was the kind of gathering she would have loved to be at ... all her favourite people. After that, we went to Lorraine's place for dinner and drinks - there was a huge amount of food left from the wake, and I think there still is, two days later!
How are we all doing? Good question ... and one I'm not nearly capable of answering clearly. I feel like a part of my broken heart is missing. The girls are slightly shell-shocked still. Kieran is wandering around looking a little lost. Bella doesn't know what's going on - it hasn't hit her yet that her Mumma isn't around, and it will take a bit of time for that reality to hit her, the poor little munchkin. Everyone else is missing that dry sense of humour, and that total honesty. Lorraine ... I don't know. She's missing the love of her life. I think she's feeling totally lonely ... surrounded by so many people who love her, she wants the only one she can't have any more. My already broken heart is breaking even more for her.
So, I guess this post, as sombre as it is, is a celebration of a life who has made mine so much richer for it's influence. I love her so much, my life is both fuller and emptier because of her. There aren't many people in your life who can leave such an indelible mark after 8 short years. Shelley .... always in my heart. Love you forever. There aren't many people I would choose to be bald for. You made us all better people, and more importantly, made my sister happy. We are going to be there for the family you have left behind, and make your legacy live on in the lessons you have taught us. What an honour, and a privilege. You really were the wild one, and we loved you for it.