We pulled up to the church. Well, not exactly a church but a free-standing chapel that was once used by nuns when there’d been a convent here during the 1960s. Today, it didn’t look like a solemn place of worship but a bag of fairy floss you indulged in when the circus came to town. The chapel was covered in an assortment of pink balloons: hot, blush, pale, baby, fuchsia. Every hue of pink was bobbing, waving and dancing in the wind.
‘You said you were going to a funeral.’ The Uber driver said as he took in what looked more like a party.
‘I am,’ I sighed.
As I got out an electric shock stung my hand on the metal door frame. I winced and stepped out onto the pavement only to be met by a playful breeze that whipped up my hair before flicking it over my eyes. I brushed it away, imagining my ironed hair now resembling a bird’s nest that had tumbled out of a tree.
Stella always knew how to have a good time, I thought as I reached under my skirt to adjust the petticoat that had stuck to my nylon black stockings. Bloody August winds and its static electricity.
I tottered down the cobbled path concentrating on my balance. I was late. I was always late. I could see everyone funnelling into the chapel. A kaleidoscope of colour being sucked in through the double wooden doors. I was the only one in black.
I entered to Pharell William’s ‘Happy’ as images of Stella showcased her life. Stella had warned us, this would be a celebration.
‘Welcome to Stella’s final goodbye,’ one of her friends said as she cut a piece of cake and hands it to me. ‘Now feel free to take as many photos as you want. Don’t forget, its hashtag stellalovesaparty,’ she said in a voice reserved for theme park attendants.
‘Yes, she does … did,’ I corrected.
I scan the crowd. Stella was popular. I caught my mother waving at me. She’d reserved a space between her and Auntie Sasha. I walked down the aisle smiling at people as they scattered their condolences at me like confetti.
Stella’s white coffin covered in pink ribbons sat ahead. It was flanked by two large bouquets bursting with an assortment of pink flowers. I see Stella’s portrait and my heart plummets to my feet. I’m going to miss her. Her life, her joie de vivre, her love, even her craziness. A zaniness that she turned up full bore when meeting a new boyfriend. It was her way of measuring their suitability. If they could handle Stella, then they were good enough for me.
As I took my seat, my mum hands me a pair of scissors.
‘What are these for?’
‘When we say our final goodbye, we cut a ribbon. There’s an affirmation pinned at the end.’
I smile at the portrait. Nanna’s last words of wisdom.
Image courtesy of Ylanite Koppens