As we come to the end of 2011, I reflect on the year that was.
In May, our daughter Lei Lei left home to live in New York. She has been away before on a gap year in France after Year 12, then an exchange in USA while she was studying at Monash University. But this time, she has really left the nest.
For years she has wanted to live in New York City to pursue a career in fashion. She is lucky to have dual citizenship. In a very short time she found a job working at StyleLikeU, an exciting, innovative online fashion magazine, and then an apartment with great roommates on the Lower East Side. And, like many young New Yorkers, she works two jobs. At night she hostesses in a restaurant frequented by movie stars. There is never a dull moment, she tells me.
We are very proud of our Lei.
Our son, Ren and his band Bleaches have gotten a number of gigs around Melbourne. It’s been a full year of surfing, snowboarding and playing music, with the occasional university lecture.
As for books published this year. Four novels came out. They are the Poppy books in the Our Australian Girl series – Meet Poppy, Poppy at Summerhill, Poppy and the Thief and Poppy Comes Home. While I was on the plane to Europe, I was still working on the final edit for Poppy Comes Home and sent it off just in the nick of time.
I spent two beautiful weeks studying Italian in San Giovanni val d’arno. I was also researching the small medieval town in Tuscany for my new novel The Wish Bird. This was followed by a week at a friend’s two hundred year old farmhouse in the same region. I felt as if I was in Bernardo Bertolucci’s dreamy movie Stealing Beauty.
After Italy it was back to London for a quick stopover before flying to New York to visit my daughter and some publishers. All I can say about New York is that it’s an amazing city.
I heart New York!
But as a bright sunny day can suddenly turn dark, I heard when I was in New York that my dog, Saffy had died. She would have been 15 years old on the 16th December.
Here is the letter I wrote to Saffy the day I found out.
“New York 2nd July 2011
My darling Saff, my gorgeous girl.
You have been with me for 14 years, 14 beautiful years, I can’t believe you are gone.
You shared my dreams. You listened to my stories. You were my constant friend.
Remember when we would go to Lorne, just the two of us? Remember how you loved it there, not the surf or the beach but the St George River where you would wallow in the calm water of the estuary.
Remember too, how you curled up in my suitcase because you were afraid of the dark.
Death comes at the most inopportune times. How I wish I could have been there for you at the end.
You always smelt so good, like a new fluffy toy, not doggy at all.
You came into our lives when Lei was 10 and Ren was 8. That seems like such a long time ago when I think of how much they have grown.
There is such a special bond between dogs and humans like a gift from God.
Remember all the tricks you could do – be a bear, roll over, shake hands, bow, and the cleverest trick of all was how you would get into a bucket to have your paws washed after we came back from a walk in the rain.
Are you with my Rusty now? You know he was my other doggy love.
Make friends with him. I think you will get on well together. Have heavenly babies even and send a little one down to me for when I’m ready to get another dog. Do you think I ever will be?
I will miss you. I will always be saddened for missing out on those last moments we should have had together. That is my only regret. Death comes to us all and I was prepared, but not prepared to not be there when it was your time.
I dreamt about you the night before you died. I dreamt that you were lying dead over cardboard boxes and you were young again and your fur was beautiful. When I woke up I was relieved that it was only a dream.
Was it a premonition? Was it a message?
And these are all the little things I remember:
I remember the look on your face when you were waiting for the microwave to heat up your dinner. You would blink and move from one front foot to the other, just three little steps. I remember the noise of the doggie door, the noise of your toe nails scraping against the wall in our bedroom at night. I remember how sometimes you would be standing at the gate when I drove in. I dont think you were waiting for me, just looking out, watching the world. I remember the sound of your name tag dinging against the water bowl.
I dreamt about you again on Sunday 17th. I dreamt that you were running and I was chasing you. But it was as if you were being called because you didnt wait for me and you ran in between the wall into a dark space then you were gone.
You will be in my heart always, dearest friend.”
I illustrated that dream. It’s titled ‘Calling Me’ and will be published in Ford Street Publishing’s Trust Me Too next year.
Here is a sneak preview.
So to end this post on a happy note, here is Hero, our gorgeous new puppy on his second adventure to Central Park, that’s Central Park, Malvern, not Central Park, New York.
Have a Joyous Christmas and wonderful New Year shared with family and friends.