Tracey was my friend. My best friend. A year ago today she passed away in the arms of her husband. The man she had loved since they were teenagers.
We met when we were 9 years old. I’m still not sure to this day why or how we became friends. She was in the cool group, and I definitely was not. But from that first day when we walked home from school together, she became my teacher, my protector and my very best friend. And I became hers. She taught me so much. Important things like how to light a match, how to ride a bike, how to scramble an egg, and how to dog paddle to save my life.
She taught me ridiculous things as well, like the choreography to Abba’s Mama Mia, the words to Carole King’s entire album, Tapestry, and how to talk to boys.
In the months leading up to her death, Tracey slowly ticked off most of her ‘bucket list’. She snorkelled, went whale watching, visited with friends she hadn’t seen for years, built bridges with her sisters and got married to the man she had been in love with for over 30 years, but was too scared to commit to before now.
She told me that she had been a fool, living her life to please everyone and being too frightened to take risks. When she was young, we had imagined her life on stage, singing to audiences across the world, with her beautiful voice that made our souls quiver. Instead, here she was, trying to cram everything she ever waned to do into months. Weeks. Days.
One night I came home after visiting her in palliative care and I got out all of our photos. They were full of two wild and crazy girls, who used to sing on the tram and dance in the street. Who dreamt of being extraordinary; every day. When did we take off those tutus?
In her last few days, Tracey made peace with herself, but I was left wondering, long after she left, what would have happened if she hadn’t been frightened. What had the world missed out on because she just couldn’t risk it?
The day before Tracey died, we sat in the hospital holding hands, and she told me how amazing I was. Me? I could only think how lucky I have been to have such a friend. Such an extraordinary, wise, beautiful, gutsy, brave friend.
I just wish we had worn more tutus.
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson