Kellie said to me, ‘Well now that we’ve spoken, you might as well write about me tonight, it will save you phoning anyone else.’
‘But you phoned me, and anyway what will I write?’
‘Write about all my awesomeness. Write about what a great friend I am. You know me, just write a tribute. I’ll send you a good photo.’
(I am going to have to make sure that this blog doesn’t turn into 365 obituaries for the living.)
I saw Kellie for the first time on the 20th November 2004, lunchtime. She was talking to a friend in a loud voice saying that it was her birthday today. I wanted to butt in and say, ‘It was mine yesterday,’ but I didn’t have the nerve. She was hippy and homespun and I was still in my Marks and Spencer’s wardrobe.
Then I saw her again when I dropped off my little one at the kinder. A baby with rosebud lips was attached to her in a sling as she rounded up two boys through the door.
We exchanged ‘hellos’ and I complimented her children on their home painted hats. All her children were very striking and one had Downs Syndrome. I told her that a distant cousin of mine is Damon Hill, the racing car driver, ‘and he is president of the Downs Syndrome Association is the UK.’ She smiled broadly as I spoke. Was she listening to a single word I said? It was as if she knew something that I didn’t.
What she probably knew was that she and I would be like naughty sisters for the next ten years and then ten more.
It is hard to write about someone you are close to, from a distance.
Kellie and I lived in a remote valley, here in rural Victoria, two doors down from each other, which was a mile apart. She and her partner were raising their 4 children and we had 2. We became like the big extended family I had always wanted to have. When I had my last baby, the early months and all the angst around newborns never happened, because of her presence.
We had our own business and she worked tirelessly in that. People say ‘never work with friends or family’ but if they are Kellie, you can!
I simply could not have done it without her.
She’s an Australian Bush Flower practitioner, she takes two items of clothing and makes them into one, she loves everyone and everyone loves her back, she’s a photographer, she wants to change the name Down’s Syndrome to Up or Angel Syndrome, she makes coffee with honey, she knows my house better than I do and I can sit in hers for hours when she’s not there and she won’t mind, I can raid her fridge, she can raid mine, she doesn’t own a bra, she tells me what not to wear, she sees snakes coming, she drinks and sings, she smokes and laughs, she wears her skirts tucked into her knickers, she is Mrs Tittlemouse -ever tidy, she rings everyday, I ring everyday, she believes in me more than anyone else ever has. She’s Kellie Desmond, 1963-the present, she’s my friend.