Today we’re here to celebrate life. My life, yes. 50 years of it to be exact. But also, your lives. I wanted to have this party to honour life. It can be such a fleeting thing, so precarious. We’re all here today, and for that I am thankful.
There’s one person not here today and she’s the reason for this party. I don’t normally do birthdays – I had one last year and that was great! Kept me going for a long time. But then Carol got ill, and died, and nothing will ever be the same again. So this birthday party is for her, really. She’s the only person I loved who ever remembered everyone’s birthdays. There was always a gift, or a card, and always a phonecall. She’s the only person I ever rang on their birthday apart from my Mum. I’d sing her Happy Birthday, badly, and we’d laugh.
This party is also about her because it’s about connecting people – people who have known of each other but never met. Carol was the great connector – I am but her apprentice – and she was the social glue of our group of friends all the years that I loved her. Hilary, Graham, Ange and Gary, Christine and Gary, Sue, Jennifer and Michael – all of us connected by Carol. All of us kept together for so many years, old friends who’ve been through a lot of things together. Nothing more potentially destructive nor more beautiful than being there for her dying, and her death.
And we’re alive. We’re here, celebrating life, because of her.
A year ago, many of us were at Mum’s house celebrating being together. Carol was the most important person in that room, for me. We cut my cake together, I made a messy speech and it was a beautiful thing. That was a year ago, and my how things have changed, haven’t they?
So here’s to Carol – to 33 years of friendship, to 33 birthdays shared in various ways. Here’s to life, and love, to friendship and companionship. Here’s to our red haired beautiful girl full of compassion and love and so much life.
And now some special thank yous.
Thank you, Mum. You and I haven’t always had the best of relationships, but after Dad died, we came closer together, and I think we get on better now than we ever have. Thanks for loving me, Mum, and being proud of me. Thanks for providing me with a beautiful home, allowing me to go to the schools I wanted. Thank you for the holidays all around NZ – the South Island, Kawau, up North, there aren’t many places we didn’t go as a family. Thank you for making me all my clothes when I was a child, all that knitting and sewing. Thank you for cooking interesting food that no-one else was eating in the 70’s. Thank you for sticking up for me. Thank you for making me ratatouille and buying me icecreams. Thank you for insisting I use my birthday and xmas money on myself, all the while knowing it went on bills. I love you. Here’s to the people who love us all their lives. Our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents. Whoever they are who look after us, they deserve our love and gratitude.
Thank you, Ian. We’ve been through some stuff, haven’t we? And here we are. I love you so much more now than I did when I first met you. We’ve fought and cried and laughed and loved. We’ve been through it all, I think, and we’ve stood the test of time. You don’t get that too often these days. I suppose we’re both just really stubborn, and determined to be here, and here we are, after 23 years together. I love you. Here’s to love, long and lasting.
Thank you, to all of you for coming. Some of you from so far away. Abbie, Emma, Isabel, Jane, Kim – who’s come just for the day! – Kris, Grace, Mel, Rochelle, my darling Sally, Sara, Sarah V, Sarah, Sue, Liz and Alison, Stefanie, and Giovanni (who’s here for nefarious purposes). (Toast) Here’s to travelling for a good time! I’m all for it.
Thank you to my friends of many years who have loved me when I was a callow youth – so opinionated, so judgemental (when I was 17, PDAs and smoking were so not cool), so full of shit – and loved me when I wasn’t a good friend. Who have stuck in there for many many years. We’ve had some fun, haven’t we? We’ve lived life, all of us with compassion and kindness, all of us good people, doing the best we can, and that’s all you can ask. Here’s to love, tried and true. Companionship, shared time, history, comfortable, familiar and knowing.
Thank you to my new friends, my Tweeps, my Queens. Thank you for loving me so well, even though you only know this me, the older me. There are many times you’ve kept me afloat.
Here’s to love, found. To developing friendships.
And thank you to Lisa, Bex, and Aue, for making work a fun place to be, a kind place to be. We’ve had our share of shit over the years, haven’t we? But we’ve battled through, and we still like each other so we’re okay! You’ve done well to accept this quirky white girl from the other side of Mangere Bridge. Here’s to working with people who make the daily grind bearable, and here’s to loving your job.
For all those people who couldn’t make it today, for various reasons. Sonja, Lara, David, Marianne, Kathy, Karen Hurley, Deborah, Kaye, Leef, Bridget, Sarah, Katherine, Kylie, Danae, Karen, Deborah, Michelle, Gary and Brent.
To absent friends.
Thank you all. So very much. Turning 50 wasn’t daunting for me, but it is important. Because Carol didn’t get to be 50, because so many of our friends and family have gone before we were ready, before they were ready.
Can I ask you to raise your glasses, and toast our beloveds, our lost ones.
To love, always and forever, in our hearts.