Remembering Helen

Today is the 5th anniversary of my beloved best friend, Helen Mardi Petrou’s passing.

I can’t believe it’s been 5 years. I suppose part of the reason it just seems so improbable that it’s been that long is that all the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 left us with no real moments to help judge the passing of time. The other reason is that she still lives so large in my head.

I think of her every day. I see her in my mind every day. I hear her outrageously generous laugh with the little snort on the end and her reminder to cry happy tears. I feel her love wrap around me at times when I really need to feel her presence. I often talk to her in my mind, just to touch base and partly because, after almost 30 years of telling her everything, it’s hard to break the habit.

I look at the many photos I have of her around my house and on my phone – photos of us together, us with her girls, us with my boys, her with my boys, and us with my hubby (who she often called her Clayton’s hubby – the hubby you have when you don’t have a hubby.)

Helen and my boys

I’ve been looking over those photos the last few weeks even more than usual, because coming up to this milestone has just made me feel incredibly sad. I miss having my bestie in my life so much. Don’t get me wrong – I am very lucky to have some wonderful, close friends, but there is something special and intimate and non-replaceable about those we become friends with in our teens/late-teens and go through so much with. For Helen and me, our friendship went through a baptism by fire very early on when she was diagnosed with her first cancer and soon after I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Helping each other through those very difficult times created bonds and a closeness I have never experienced with any other friend, no matter how close I am to them. And I know she felt the same. It’s not something either of us chose or looked for, but once we had it, nothing but death could break it – and even then, for me, that special relationship I had with her when she was here with me in the flesh is still very much present and real now she is only here in spirit.

However, I still miss her so much.

People always say that time heals all wounds, but she far, it hasn’t in any way healed this one. I still feel Helen’s loss – the unfair ending of her life by that arsehole, cancer – the same as I did on the day she died. I still rail against the Fates that wove into her life’s thread that she would repeatedly get cancer until she died from it. And on these anniversaries, it’s hard to remember to only cry happy tears. Her loss – for me, for her girls, for her parents and siblings, for her large extended family, and for all her many friends – is still acute, especially today.

I will try for happy memories and happy tears today my friend, but I can’t promise them because I am just too sad. I want you here with me, where I can feel your hugs and your sticky lipstick kiss on my cheek, and not where you are. I want to truly hear your voice and share a laugh with you and share with you about everything going on in our lives, whether good or bad or something in between. But obviously that can never be. So, allow me to be sad on this day, 5 years from when you were taken from us all. I promise I will do better tomorrow.

I love you my beautiful girl. And I’ll miss you always.

Hoppy frog tomato, my darling friend. Hoppy frog tomato.

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