Feeling the loss

It’s weird when you think that you’ve moved on and you suddenly find yourself blubbing in the middle of a restaurant.

I had dinner last night with my former Food Editor Jennene. It sounds funny saying “my”. When I was the editor of Woman’s Day I managed a staff of around 35 people. There was a Food Editor, a Beauty Editor, an Art Director, a Chief Sub-Editor, a News Editor, a Features Editor, a Picture Editor and loads of other talented folk … I even had the most divine personal assistant.

I’m still in touch with many of them, though I haven’t caught up with most for a few years. Di, I wish you didn’t live so far away – I want to give you a hug!

It’s a very different story these days in magazines – they are lucky to have a handful of people on staff.

Jennene and I had a lovely time reminiscing about the good old days when the budgets – and the circulation figures – were big.

Fun times.

But that’s not what caused the blubbing.

We were discussing our former colleagues and I mentioned that I never got around to gathering people together for a drink in honour of my friend Lorrae, who passed away last year.

Lorrae was my mentor at Woman’s Day and taught me everything she knew. I was lucky enough to get to see her a few days before she died. I flew down to Melbourne just before its big lockdown and had a precious few hours with her.

I was so startled about a month ago when a message popped up on my phone that said it was from “Maybe Lorrae”. It was her sister sending me a message with a photo of a tribute to Lorrae that was published in The Big Issue. She added: “We do miss Lorrae. Hope you are well.”

I was telling Jennene about my last visit with Lorrae and her final words to me, asking if I was happy. And I started weeping, right there in the middle of the restaurant.

I miss Lorrae. I miss everyone I’ve loved and lost very much. I compartmentalise the missing of them, but the ache never completely goes away. I see their faces so clearly: my great grandmother, my nan, my pop, my pop-in-law, Alec, Lorrae … I am lucky not to have lost many people in my life, I don’t know how I would find room for the wishing I’d done and said more.

But I suppose you simply have to make the space in your heart, because it’s an inevitable consequence of this getting older business.

I am a very pragmatic, fairly intelligent person, but I don’t understand how someone can be so full of life and then gone. It doesn’t feel right that the world loses their unique light.

I didn’t cry the whole dinner, just for a moment or two. I also laughed a lot. It was great to catch up. I wish we’d taken a selfie, but I find we tend to photograph our food these days rather than our ageing selves.

I had the poke bowl, she had the soft tacos …

Chardonnay was sipped. Many memories were shared.

I tried to find a photo of us on Google, without success. But I did come across this one of me when I first started at ACP Magazines, with my mates Sam and Johnno (below). I really need to catch up with them too, it’s been waaaaay too long!

I am glad I got to be the editor of Woman’s Day. Not for the glory of the sales figures or the never-to-be-repeated salary, but because of the pride I feel about the boss that I was.

I told my former colleague how much it meant to me to prove to myself that you could be in charge and not be an awful human being. You could edit a weekly magazine without running your staff into the ground. You could motivate people kindly rather than propel them with fear.

I’m sure I had flaws as a leader. But I hope I was decent and humane.

I must organise that gathering to pay tribute to my friend and catch up with the old gang. They’re a great bunch.

PS That’s me on the side of a tram in Melbourne in the main pic.

Song of the day: Cold Chisel “Ita” (oldie but a goodie)

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