Last Saturday morning I was lying in bed enjoying the fact that I had recovered from my bout of “man ‘flu”, we had no footy commitments that morning & I could catch up on some reading before channelling my inner domestic goddess and tackling the somewhat neglected household chores.
Then the phone rang. My friend Woolly was in tears; his wife and my friend of twenty years was in hospital and the prognosis was bleak. It was the phone call I knew would come one day but never really expected. In my mind that imagined call was always a good ten or fifteen years away. Not on a beautiful sunny morning in August 2011.
I met Froggy at the 1991 Head of the River in Geelong. She was there with her great friend Angie (a sister of a school friend of mine). It was through that chance meeting with Froggy and Angie that I ended up with a job at Bullawah Station between Hay and Conargo. We became friends and attended many B&S balls together and countless Friday nights at various district pubs (Conargo, Booroorban, Hay, Jerilderie and Deniliquin).
The years went by, we met good men, married and had children. Then one day twelve years ago Froggy phoned. She was expecting their second baby and a doctor had just informed her she had multiple sclerosis (MS). I have no idea how I would come to terms with a diagnosis like that if it had been me but Froggy faced it with calm determination. She walked into hospital to have her beautiful baby girl Charlotte and came out in a wheelchair.
Froggy is a great listener and many times over the years I have been grateful for her wise counsel and girly advice in all manner of subjects from being a wife, being a parent, the sudden and unexpected departure of my husband to my latest internet dating escapades.
It was confronting and bewildering for me to arrive at Terang hospital on Saturday afternoon and find Froggy who I’d been chatting with only two short weeks ago now struggling for breath, unable to speak, eat or drink. What do you say to a friend at this time? I talked about the things we’d done together, the funny stories, great times, the five awesome children that we’d made and I told Froggy that I loved her and how grateful I was that she was in my life but mostly I just sat with her, held her hand and stroked her face.
That night Woolly and I stayed at the hospital. Woolly on the couch and I was in my swag on the floor. It was like being back in those days of early motherhood when you’d wake at the slightest noise your baby would make. It was a wrench to leave on Sunday afternoon to come home. Saying goodbye to Woolly, their daughters Isabella and Charlotte and most of all, my friend Froggy who I won’t see again. A humbling experience that shifts my perspective and reminds me what is important in this life. Safe travels Froggy.