Obvious content note
About 20 years ago, a friend hung up notes around uni: Lord of the Rings Trading Cards Game, players wanted. A young woman with a head full of curls showed up, and my (now) brother in law remarked afterwards: “Well never see her again.” Rarely in the history of humankind has somebody been that wrong, and I’m glad about it. The young woman returned. We became friends, we became close friends, we became the best of friends. Society doesn’t have a word for what we were. Somebody you love dearly, though there is neither family nor romance involved. A few weeks ago she signed the contract to buy a house just three houses up the street. We were planning to grow old together. In September she would move in, we’d plan and put up the kitchen together. New Year’s Eve we’d have our traditional party at her house this year.
The Covid restrictions were hard on her, being single she was the only one of us completely alone. But spring came, the vaccine came, things were looking better. We found that house. No pandemic would ever separate us like this again. Four weeks ago she had a belly bug. After her second jab she was pretty sick. Vaccine reaction, everybody said. She got better, then it got worse again. That was a pretty severe reaction and none I’d heard of before. This went on and off for some more time, with her doctor still claiming it was a vaccine reaction, but ordering blood tests for this week. I know I was getting angry with her doctor. Her cousin speculated she might have stomach ulcers. Thursday morning her brother in law called me to tell me that she’d died that night in a hospital in Milan, where she’d gone for a holiday with her cousin. She’d suffered from undetected fallopian tube cancer. The weight she’d put on was actually the tumours growing in her belly. The “vaccine reaction” was her body finally shutting down, and now we’re left to deal with the fact that she won’t come home again.
She was a kind person, and maybe that’s the best thing to say about a human being. Wherever she went, she left her mark. Not as a “leader”. She hated to be the centre of attention. Finding pics of her was a real challenge. She’d just always be there, part of whatever community she found herself in.
She enjoyed things, with all her heart and without any shame. “Dance like nobody’s watching” is a wall tattoo for most people, for her it was a motto of life. She loved ballet and went to whatever ballet class she could find. She didn’t give a fuck about what people thought of a small fat woman in her 40s doing ballet. We always crafted together. “She was bad at it, wasn’t she?”, asked her sister and yeah, she was about the clumsiest person you can imagine. But she didn’t care. If the seams of the dress were off, they were off, and she still wore it with pride. I always tried to be like her in that respect: Do what you enjoy, not what others think you should be doing.
I miss her, terribly. And I will miss her. And I want to give a big, fat middle finger to the heteronormative patriarchal kin system. I will be forever grateful to her sister for involving us, for allowing us to participate in her funeral, but I also know that the law says we’re strangers and she didn’t even have to give us a phone call.
Goodbye, Uli. Most of the world didn’t know that you existed. Because had they known, they would feel your loss now.