I have always been lucky to know really great women. I was raised by a woman who worked her arse off in low-paid,blue-collar jobs to put my brother and I through university. Her mother raised six children single-handedly in the 1930s and 40s because her husband was killed in a mining accident when she was pregnant with her youngest. My father’s mother outlived her husband and four of her five children, stoically continuing to live a fulfilling life into old age, despite losing her loved ones to unimaginable tragedies like cot death, drowning and a car accident.
I don’t have any sisters, but have been blessed throughout my life with an array of amazing female friends. During the months of my diagnosis, surgery and treatment, my friends provided a steady lifeline that helped me stay afloat whenever I felt like I was sinking. I relied so much on my husband during that time for both practical and emotional support, but with the pressure of working in a new job and caring for our son, he too benefitted from the care that my friends provided to me and our family.
There’s an odd little link between some of my closest friends that has always intrigued me – their names all start with a K. Apparently the letter K originated from the Egyptian symbol for the hand, so it seems very appropriate that all the women who have helped me so much and offered me so much love and friendships all have names which begin with this letter. I haven’t asked any of them if they are ok with me writing about them – I’m too scared they’ll say no and then I’ll have to come up with something else to write about today – so I will use their initials for privacy. Of course, once I become rich and famous off the back of this blog, they’ll be out and proud, Entourage style.
First up of the Ks is KW, also known as The Wind Beneath My Wings. We became friends in the first days of high school, and that was it really. My friendship with KW has shaped the person I am today. She is the only child of immigrant parents, who lost her dad in a tragic accident when she was very young, and was brought up by a strong, smart and vibrant single mother. The first time I was invited to her house for dinner, all of the food was completely unrecognisable to me. Pea soup, croutons, and little sausages called chevapcici. Coming from your typical working class Australian family where chops and mashed potato were on high rotation, it was so exotic and interesting to me, and I’m pretty sure the part of me that loves the preparation of food was awakened on that day. In 33 years of friendship, there are so many stories and none of them alone can exemplify how lucky I am to have this K in my life.
Next, let me introduce you to KM. Oh man, my amazing friend KM. We also met at school, and spent a lot of time together as single girls in our 20s. Then she moved nearly 1000 kms away to make it in the big city (which she did), but she remains one of the dearest people in my life. When I had Hugh, she flew interstate and then via bus for two hours to see us, arriving at the hospital unannounced, with such a lack of fanfare that it took me a little while to realise that she was actually there and not just a figment of my sleep-deprived imagination. When I was going through chemo, she asked me what I’d like for Christmas. Flippantly, I said I’d like her to come home, and you know what – she did. She came to my home and she wrapped all my Christmas presents while I lay on my bed, bald and exhausted. And on Christmas Day, she and KW and I sat and chatted like we have done for years, and rather than feeling like someone with breast cancer, I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
KB, who I actually call KB in real life – well she is a force of nature. A more engaging, warm and just bloody totally likeable person you will never meet. She took time off work to come with me to chemo and read to me from the Wayne’s World catalogue – she made chemo fun! KB unintentionally became a mum for the first time at the ripe old age of 17, and has produced two of the most capable and wonderful young women who are kicking goals personally and professionally, just like their amazing mother. KB is unflinching in her loyalty and never judges anyone (unless they deserve a thorough judging). Seriously, when life hands her lemons, she says ‘I fucking love lemons!’ and just gets on with it. Her only downfall is that she hates photos of herself, even though she is drop-dead gorgeous. These are her progeny – they will give you an idea of just how beautiful their mum is.
To add to my blessings are many other friends – more Ks, some Rs and Ts, some Js and a couple of Ss. I’ve already written about some of them, and I’m sure there’ll be more stories to come. The alphabet has been very kind to me.