I worked a regular forty hours last week. Then I hopped on a plane and went to Wellington and stayed up until 2:30am catching up with beautiful people.
I left their house at 7:20, walked down the hill from Brooklyn. So that I could get some early morning cold air into my lungs to wake me up.
I worked from 8am till 7pm, because that’s what you do in the festival. I caught up with other beautiful people afterwards. I realised at my sister’s that night that I hadn’t told her that Virgil was sick. That he was dying.
The next morning, I used a bookseller ticket to go in to the first session of the day. Paul Beavis was reading from his picture books. The audience was full of toddlers in costumes. My phone buzzed partway through. I checked it; it could have been the shop.
Virgil had died that morning.
I had at least eight hours of the day ahead. And a final catch-up with beautiful people.
I compartmentalised. I worked through the day. I cheerfully greeted people. I had gravy fries. We drove up Wright’s Hill and looked out across the city.
I went to the airport again. Flew home with Uther. Went to bed. Woke up. Went to work.
I read a Facebook post about funeral details. Someone commented asking if a particular vehicle they had seen near the house had been the sort of people who take bodies away taking Virgil away.
I think that was the really, truly, sinking in moment.
So now, I am allowing myself to feel the pain of loss. For myself, for Charlotte and the girls. For Maggie. For the rest of the family.
For the world, too. Because everyone who knew him loved him, of that I’m sure. You can’t not love that kind of spirit and humour and passion. The hours and hours I have spent around him seem woefully inadequate now. The last conversation, over two years ago – because my timing in moving to Wellington was not made for this eventuality.
Nothing could be, though, could it?