Clay’s Chicken Parmi

Grief is never far away, but it visits less often now.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see parts of you in my reflection. Or I just hear Flame Trees or Khe Sanh playing inside my head. I don’t think Cold Chisel and Barnesy ever had a bigger fan than you.

I see a board outside a pub for a counter meal or a parmi and I’m thinking about you again. You always had your finger on the pulse about where the best ‘countery’ could be had.

There’s that excellent Chinese restaurant where I think we last ate together, with Phebe and the kids, that I can’t think about going back to any more. I hear they do fantastic duck pancakes, and think of how how you studied the menu and ordered the oddest thing on it, an unlikely fusion of Spanish and Chinese flavours, just because it sounded strange.

I learnt a lot from you, and you were the man of my dreams as a little girl. When I got older I realised that while you loved your family and your friends, you never held back with an opinion, even if at first it might have upset people. It wasn’t because you were a bastard, it was how you showed you cared. You weren’t always right but I came to admire your conviction and integrity. Even now sometimes when I’m feeling unsure about what to do or what to believe in when things get hard, I wish you were here to tell it to me straight. Maybe over a chocolate eclair at Henri’s.

I feel like I should have called you more often, or hung out more as we got older and our lives became busy and full of work and our own families. But our friendship wasn’t really like that. We could pick it up again whenever we saw one another.

That mischievous giggle, just like your Dad’s, and all the crazy stories of that time you ……………… Everyone who knew you has their own story about you and your crazy capers.

I have to stop myself when tears start to well up as I think about you. Even though I’d love to ask your opinion about the choices I make in my life, and to hear what you think about people, you remind me to enjoy it. Not the big deal fancy stuff, you didn’t care about that. You remind me to enjoy each day, to have better conversations, to be true to my convictions and to have a bloody good laugh along the way.

And even though you thought I was a food snob, your chicken parmis were awesome. I wish I knew the recipe.

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