How to say goodbye

Last week I heard that one of Frith’s friends passed away. He was diagnosed with MND earlier this year and it took hold quickly. Up until he became ill, Paul lived life LARGE. He was always full of stories of adventures he had had, and of future plans. He kept fit, and liked all the good things in life. He had so many friends and a family who love him. He had a beautiful partner who has a daughter and I know once they got together, he was set.

But life had other plans. When he told me at the very start of the year about his diagnosis I was so shocked and upset for him. He did his best to keep things positive and he even remembered to call me a couple of weeks later on my birthday, as he has every year since Frith died. He did a lot for me in the months and first year after Frith died. He called and messaged me regularly to check in, and he promised me that if I needed anything for the kids, he would do what he could. He lived in Mackay, so we didn’t see much of each other, but we followed each other’s lives on fb, and he would pop in if he was down this way, if Covid permitted. The last three times he was meant to come and visit, Covid lockdowns got in the way, so it has actually been a few years since I’ve even seen him.

But he always called on my birthday.

He and Frith met in Mackay in their early 20s, about 20 years ago, when Frith was doing a Uni placement at a Power Station in Mackay (I think???) and he was staying at uni accommodation, and I think Paul worked in security there? I guess I’ll never be able to fact check that now. They became friends and remained sporadically in touch over the years. He came to our wedding, which may have even been the first time I met him. We saw him more in the three years we lived in Rockhampton than we had since we were married.

Circa late-2000s
December 2017, weeks before Frith’s death

Paul came to visit us at my new house a few years ago, and it happened to be a Sunday morning and we happened to be having pancakes. He sat down and looked at the spread, and asked “where is the ice cream?” The kids eyes lit up. You see, I never really (ever?) served ice cream with pancakes, and I jokingly glared at Paul and told him he was a bad influence. Of course I got out the ice cream and of course the kids thought it was the best thing ever. Since then, once every school holidays, we have ice cream on our pancakes, and I always think of Paul and smile that he brought that tradition into our lives.

So this morning, we had pancakes with ice cream on them. I haven’t told the kids that he has died. I don’t think they would really remember him, but they may remember my friend who came over and introduced us to ice cream on pancakes. I just can’t bring myself to tell them that another young person in their lives has left this earth. I’m having trouble processing it. I just can’t tell them.

Paul, you have left a huge hole in so many people’s lives. I’ll miss your yearly phone calls on my birthday. I wish so badly I had called you for your birthday only a week before you left us. I’ll always remember the love and kindness you showed to me, and I know you’ll be remembered by so many, who loved you so very much.


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