Clea’s friend, Laura, has made us a gingerbread house. She painstakingly erected it from a kit with the help of her mother who held the walls together while the icing was setting. Her father was even called on to assist with the chimney (there are surprises in the chimney, so I am told). It is a beautiful and very special gingerbread house. Laura made it with love for us.
Laura is Clea’s friend. She is the little friend who would run out of class with Clea and ask when she could come to visit. Clea wrote a card with our phone number and address inviting Laura on a play date to our house (Laura’s mother has kept that card). Clea and Laura both went to After School Care but on different days so finding an afternoon which suited everyone was difficult. Laura did come to visit but it was a year after Clea had died. She has since visited a number of times; not easy for a little girl who has just turned nine years old.
Laura is also the little girl who visits her friend at the cemetery. She leaves pinwheels to blow in the wind and handmade Easter eggs beside the plaque which bears her friend’s name.
Laura did not understand what happened to her friend and why she couldn’t invite Clea to her 7th birthday party the November after Clea died (Clea died on 29 September 2009). We sat in the classroom with all the Year 1 children trying to explain what a tsunami is and what power it has. How do you explain to children that their friend went on a holiday and was never coming back?
Clea and Laura had plans to sit next to each other in Year 2. They were going to be good friends, maybe even BFFs. They were already good friends. Laura has pictures of Clea besides her bed. Her mother wrote a beautiful poem about Laura and Clea which is posted on the library blog.
Sometimes, we are so caught up in our own grief that we forget that Clea touched the lives of others as well. I hope I know Laura for a long time and I hope that when I attend the Year 10 graduation in 2018, I will hear that Laura Otten graduates from Amaroo School. I know I will not hear ‘Clea Salavert Wykes graduates from Amaroo School’.
Thank you Laura (and Nat).