Goodbye to our friend Asia

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any gloomier …. our friend Asia has just died. Ok, people die, you may think. What’s the big deal? Well, Asia was in her 30s, was fit and healthy, but apparently had a heart attack and fell down her stairs. And that was it. Asia is gone. I can’t believe it.

Asia was more than a friend who’d pop in for a coffee. She was TL’s cleaner for four difficult years. And then, when we bought this house together two years ago, I was faced with a dilemma. For about 5 seconds. In common with most women, having a cleaner makes me feel guilty. We’re supposed to do all that ourselves, aren’t we? On top of everything else. Our old house was small, so I could flit around it quickly and easily. But this house is a lot bigger, and was a building site for about a year. Plus Asia sent most of her money home, to her mother in Poland. So stopping employing her just seemed mean. My guilt was sidestepped.

Being women, and territorial creatures, we circled each other warily for a while. But our mutual love of eclectic cleaning products brought us together. We both searched high and low for a special granite cleaner. I bought her a mop she loved. She gave me a bottle of her favourite stain remover. We bonded particularly over my impulse purchase of a steamer, after seeing one in use while visiting a friend in hospital. She used to wield it like Luke Skywalker with his light sabre. And, of course, we laughed about the usual stuff too, men, children, the world.

She stayed late last week, to finish all the ironing before she went off to Poland to spend Christmas with her mother. I meant to text her, to thank her for tidying the children’s room – a job that usually had her muttering in thankfully incomprehensible Polish. Usually I did it before she came, this time I hadn’t got round to it. I knew she’d done it as a Christmas treat to me. I never got round to saying that thank you. Well, I had loads of time. So I thought.

She was meant to leave yesterday. But the flight went without her. She had already gone. Goodbye Asia. We’ll miss you so much. And thank you, thank you for everything.


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