I’m still reeling from Frances’s expected-yet-still-unexpected departure to the Other Side. And tomorrow, Malcolm will also be gone for three years. It feels like just yesterday that he too was sick one day and then gone the next. It’s comforting to know though that they’re both in a Better Place, free from pain and the oddities of the world.
My last conversation with Frances was a long one, where we spoke about many things. She said she had a few regrets but was grateful for the opportunity to be able to make amends and ask for forgiveness. I asked her if she could give any person in the world one piece of advice, what it would be; her reply take the risk if it means you’ll be happy – as long as it isn’t at the cost of someone else. I know exactly where this pearl of wisdom stems from, and why she gave it to me. I’m going to miss her a great deal – after such a long time without any communication to the last nine months of intense kinship, it feels like I’ve lost a sibling. I felt the same when Malcolm died. He was my best friend for a long, long time. I know that time heals all wounds, but it will never erase the memories, thankfully.
As an empathetic person, I don’t do well with negative emotions – be they hurt, grief, anger, sadness, anguish, guilt or (insert your own here) – so in an attempt not to wallow in the sorrow of losing my friend, I stayed busy. Frances would have understood; in fact, she would have expected me to.
Work kept my mind occupied during the day, and most evenings I had something to do – getting my bi-weekly manicure, dinner with friends, that kind of thing, but Friday…that was an a-maze-ing experience. Exhausting, but fun.
Every year, one of the main tourist attractions in our area, the Redberry Farm, where co-incidentally, Malcolm worked for a while, has an event called the Moonlight Maze. Their hedge maze is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere! Charlie and I did it during the day last year, in August and honestly, had it not been for him, I probably would not have found my way out. So, bravely (or stupidly, seeing as the line is very fine) Elizabeth, Chantel, Yasmin and I set off on our adventure, donning sneakers, glow-in-the-dark-glasses, and of course, mandatory flashlights in hand, which Yours Truly didn’t remember. Fortunately, I’m a creature of the night, so just used my night-vision.
Now, the object of the maze isn’t to go in at one end and out another – it is to find seven different stations within the maze and obtain a stamp at each one. Sounds easy enough, right? Uh, no! We found the first three stations with relative ease. Being in the maze even during the day is understandably disorientating. Add to that the black of night and crowds of people – amongst them excited kids of all ages and well, you might as well have put me on another planet. We spent almost the first hour of our time in the maze walking around in a circle around the very stations we already had the stamps from. We knew we had to get to the other side of the large structure resembling a giant strawberry, but we kept taking a left, or it could have been a right and ending up right where we had been before. All in all, we walked over 5 Km (a little over 3 miles) within the maze and with the help of one of the staff we crossed over to the side we needed to be to get the remaining stamps we needed. As a token of our completion of the task, we were awarded these badges as a souvenir to take home.
I had another souvenir when I woke up on Saturday morning – seriously stiff legs. I think that next year we should do it again – in memory of Frances whose star I know will light the way for us.