I know that for most people, it is some ethereal being that they sit down and pray that she will be kind enough to visit them.
But I know her name.
She was my second cousin.
I met her at the age of 8. She was and is still the best writer I have ever known. When I am at my best, I feel that she is writing through me. When I’m at my worst, I feel that it is in fact me who is doing the writing.
After meeting her, we spent the next ten years writing letters to each other. I tried so hard to impress her. Writing for her was so effortless. She could be funny, witty and dry, go to dark and light places, in her 17 page opus letters. I could never match hers. No-one has ever made me laugh like her.
Visiting her on the farm was incredible. Her grandmother would treat her like a princess, and the rest of the visiting family would virtually starve. She was precious cargo. So she could never come up and visit us.
Her writing was recognised at a young age. She was sent to the Caribbean to further her studies in her writing in French. She studied to be a journalist. She was a light that burned so brightly.
Yet, that light burned for such a short time. Too short.
Suddenly, one summer. I had not heard from her in a long while. Then the next I heard was that she was in a helicopter being taken to Sydney. I saw her once in hospital. She wasn’t awake. I wouldn’t have known what to say anyway.
I wrote down something for her mother, who later read it to her. My last words to her were, “we always wanted to go to Sydney together.” I didn’t know what else to say. The following day she died of cancer. I was 18. She was 21.
From that moment, I have felt that she has guided my life. I can feel when I’m making a good decision, because I feel like I have her backing. That doesn’t mean I don’t make bad decisions… but somehow those decisions too, have lead me to wonderful places… eventually.
Whatever I have achieved, or will achieve. I owe her.
Thank you Natasha.