On the 28th of July, a Perth friend from my early twenties - whom I spent many hours dancing, eating and drinking with all those years ago - lost her battle with cancer.
Krista, 46, spent the last few weeks of her life putting together photo albums for her two girls (age 13 & 5), spending mum and daughter time with them (that included taking her youngest to have her ears pierced - a precious memory) and even hosting a High Tea for her family and friends, all whilst preparing for the inevitable.
Through it all she maintained a sense of humour and will to embrace what little time she had left. Leading up to her death, she was often described as 'brave'. This, I believe, was an understatement.
Our paths crossed for a fairly short period of time. We lost contact for many, many years. It happens. There was no falling out, no conscious decision to part ways - just another example of two lives that headed in different directions (and to opposites sides of the country).
I am thankful and feel very fortunate for the opportunity to reconnect with Krista a few weeks before she died. I was reminded of all the great times we spent together - especially with my niece (my age) and our friend, Mel, who moved to Canada in the mid-90s. (We were quite the 'Awesome Foursome' back in the day!) I loved seeing all the photos of all the great times we spent together that we sent to each other during the last few weeks of Krista's life, and the ones I saw on Krista's Facebook page.
Amongst all the photos I saw though, my absolute favourite photo of Krista was one that didn't include me or anyone else I know - just Krista herself. Nor was it taken during the period of time I spent with her. The photo is of Krista in 1996, sitting on a castle wall in Greece, looking out towards the ocean during a trip there with her late Mum (who died just five months later at age 49). She titled the picture in part 'contemplating life', and it was no doubt taken by her dear mum. It is a beautiful photo capturing Krista's youth, thoughtfulness and a serenity in her. It showcases, in my opinion, how many described her over the years (including myself): free-spirited. Looking at it, I sensed the contentedness and thankfulness for spending that time with her mum that she has expressed previously in an earlier Facebook of hers.
I have always believed that Heaven is a different place for all of us: it is a place where we choose to go where we felt happy once upon a time. When I think of Krista in her Heaven, I'm going to picture her back in Greece, sitting on that wall, reunited with her dear Mum, where they will no doubt watch over Krista's babies together. (Look for Mum in your dreams, girls.)
My heart goes out to her partner, two beautiful girls and all her family and friends. It is a huge loss.
Where do people go when they die?
Somewhere down below or in the sky?
'I can't be sure,' said Grandad, 'but it seems
They simply set up home inside our dreams.'
- Jeanne Willis
RIP, Krista. Thanks for the good times, hon. You will never be forgotten!
Like I always say, life is short ... live it.