Mom’s phone rang just after 8 last night.  It was Kayla, one of my most dear friends in the whole world, whom I don’t get to see enough because she lives in Johannesburg and I live down here.  She was the bearer of bad news.  Our mutual friend, Rentia’s mother passed away last night.  Like Steph, she too died after a long illness, but unlike Steph who died on her own birthday, Rentia’s mom died on her youngest daughter,  Sarah’s birthday.  How tragic…

I will admit that I haven’t had much contact with Rentia in quite some time – as life happens, so people sometimes drift apart.  I sent her a message last night and again this morning.  My heart is with Rentia, her father, her siblings and her children.  Again, I am reminded of my own mortality…

Goodbye Steph…

…I received word from Elizabeth that our close friend, Lisa’s mum, Stephanie, passed away at 04:20 this morning after battling various illnesses.  Even more tragic is that today would have been her sixtieth birthday, if Rachel is correct.

I remember chatting to Elizabeth’s mum about Steph, not having met her yet.  Elizabeth’s mum summed her up as flamboyant.  When I eventually did have the honour of meeting Steph, she was flamboyant…and caring…and funny…and loving…and gracious…and inspiring…and the list goes on.

People often say when one no longer walks a road with someone to “remember the good times” – and I do.  I have searched the deepest recesses of my mind for a tainted memory of some sort and nothing comes up.  I distinctly remember the last time we had a get-together at Lisa’s flat (behind her parents’ house).  The lights of the main house were off, so I just popped into the flat – moments later Lisa’s phone rang.  Steph was on the line wanting to know why I had not popped in to say hello.

I went in to say hello and we ended up chatting for almost an hour!  She was always positive about everything, despite her troubling health.  I remember telling her how much the farm takes out of me and that I know it is not something I see myself doing long-term and she would encourage me to do what would make me happy; to never stop dreaming.

She also had a strange, yet fond fascination with my hair.  Whenever she saw me she would compliment me on it, or run her fingers through it.  She was also always interested in potential romances; she would tease Rachel often about all her “boyfriends”.

My heart is aching terribly today – not only for Steph’s departure; for Lisa and her father and Steph’s mum left behind, but because it brought me to a terrible realization that Steph was younger than both my parents.  It made me realize just how fortunate I am to still have them with me.  Seems as I get older, Death makes me a little more aware of my mortality.

Steph – You were loved by many, and you will be sorely missed.  Rest now, in the arms of the angels.

Have You Ever Been in Love?

Some time ago, I took my CD wallet out of my car and forgot where I put it. This isn’t an unusual thing for me to do – I never put my keys in the same place twice, nor do I get dressed in the same sequence twice. It’s one of those quirks that is individual to a few others like me. So, when I didn’t find the CD wallet to put it back in my car, I just wrote a few MP 3 discs, which, up until recently were what I listened to in the car.

Out of the blue, I found the wallet again and have thus been rehashing some of the CD’s in it. There are some good memories there and some music that I can’t believe I ever listened to, let alone, enjoyed. One CD, or rather, song on a particular CD had me so reflective that I only realized I was crying when I looked in the rearview mirror and saw my sodden cheeks.

It was Celine Dion’s version of Have You Ever Been in Love.

Oddly enough, it came on when I was about 10 minutes away from work on my way home and the sky was a golden bronze haze, dotted with pink clouds…almost identical to that first evening I met Paul* at the airport in Johannesburg.

We had met online, in a Trivia chatroom and we immediately realized we were kindred spirits. Eventually cellphone numbers were swapped and daily text messages became the order of the day. We had a few really fun virtual dates (dates, not cybersex) and after, we would have a real phone chat. One morning we sat talking until four in the morning.

He was in Johannesburg, and I was in the Cape, and at that time, the radio station here played the same music every day and this song in particular would always tug at my heartstrings. Paul eventually started listening to the stream on the net and inevitably when it would play, one of us would text the other almost instintively.

I will never forget the day I was standing in Aunty Carol’s* kitchen, nowhere close to a radio, when I got a text saying, “So, have you ever been in love?” Without thinking twice, I replied, “I am now.” Not soon after that I went to Johannesburg to meet him – and no, it wasn’t love at first sight. He was almost a head shorter than me (and that is saying something because I’m only one point six meters tall), but there was just something about him that made me think, “he’s perfect.”

We spent the weekend together – falling asleep holding hands the first night and spending most of the next morning exploring one another. It wasn’t carnal lust, it was tender passion. We made love, yet loved one another with each breath.

The Sunday he took me back to the airport, things were awkward (and I was very naive to think they wouldn’t be), and while we did stay in touch, our communications were vague. It took me a long while to get over the fact that I’d slept with a man I didn’t really know, but I never regretted it. We both moved on and eventually lost contact completely.

It was April or May 2008 when I received a text message from a number I didn’t know – telling me that Paul and his son had been killed in a tragic motor vehicle accident in Namibia (his home country) and that his brother was in critical condition in hospital. I was stunned. I got into my car and went to my then-boyfriend for an engagement with him and his family, but by the time I got there, I couldn’t hide the shock, nor the sadness. I apologised to them, got back in my car and went to sit at the beach. It struck me like the proverbial ton of bricks that I had loved Paul, as short lived as our “relationship” had been.

Not soon after, I received another text from the same number who had let me know of the tragedy, wanting to know if I wanted the letters I had (hand)written Paul. I was speechless. Not because I didn’t know if I wanted them back or not, but because he had kept them. I got them back, along with a photo of him and again, soft tears stained my cheeks.

And today, in almost identical weather to the first time we met, Have you Ever been in Love played in my car and I silently mourned for a love lost. Part of me cried because I realized that I made a mistake not fighting for it to work, but the other part of me cried as I once again realized, I have been in love…with Paul. He made me touch the moonlight…he made my heart shoot stars…he made me walk on air…he made me feel like I was dreaming.

So yes, I have. Have YOU ever been in love?

*Not their real names