Sunday afternoon was the afternoon of my first meeting for the photo project idea I had. The photo project would create a photo diary of my time spent in hospital while getting my kidney transplant. Every day a different friend would come to visit me in the hospital and take a photo. This photo did not have to be of my face and it did not have to be a conventional photograph. I am lucky to know quite a few amazing creative people and the interest had been extensive. There had even been the inclusion of some illustrations or drawings that some of my art friends wanted to include. The meet up at my house was basically an excuse to drink in the afternoon and have a nice and fun filled chatter.
I invited Ace as I stupidly thought he would be excited to take part in a creative project with me. But when I asked him to come he replied as he always did with a decline and an alternative day that suited him better. He had not come to my book launch. He had never come to any of my birthdays. The last time I had seen him he had made me feel dull and lame and had patronized me to the point of me wanting to scream. Then at the end of it all I actually felt the need to ask him the following. I asked him as we stood at the tram stop. He had his phone in his hand. He had had his phone on him the whole time and had looked at it and fiddled with it contantly. I never got my phone out around him as I gave him all my attentions. ‘’Will you visit me in hospital?’’ I asked him.
‘’When and which hospital?’’ He did not say ‘’Of course’’. He did not say ‘’ As if I wouldn’t. You goose!’’
I had not had to ask any of my other friends such an obvious question.
So anyway back to Sunday fun day. Leong arrived first with cheese and spiniche pies and wine. He hugged me and put the wine and the food on the coffee table in the living room. I went into my bedroom to get my glasses and he followed me with his bag. ‘’I need you to sit down.’’ He said. He took my hands and sat me on the edge of my bed. He pulled something out of his bag and walked to my desk chair. He spun the chair around and sat on it so he was facing me with our knees touching. He held out the book for me to look at. It was a Delfonics daily planner and it was beautiful. It had a tweed cover with hot pink polka dots all over it. It was the kind of daily planner I was constantly looking at in Mag Nation and Brunswick Bound but never buying as they were around 59$. In the back of the daily planner there was a list of hand written names. ‘’Do any of those names look familiar?’ Leong asked me softly. I nodded as I skimmed down the list of 20 neatly written names. There was also a brown envelope with the Brunswick bound bookstore emblem on it. I was starting to piece things together. I took out the book voucher and read the amount it was made out to.
I started to cry.
It was 535$ That was so many books, I was sorted for reading material while I was in hospital and while I was recovering.
I looked up at Leong’s face as he ;ooked at me expectantly. ‘’You did all this?’’ I said as I grinned through happy tears.
‘’And.’’ Leong said. ‘’ I spoke to Rob and Susie, who own the store and they added a little something.’’ He turned the voucher over and it told me a further 20% discount was included so I could get EVEN MORE book goodness.
‘’They knew of you.’’ Leong said ‘’but, they did not know your name. Now they do.’’ I put the book down on my bed and stood up. I hugged him tight and pushed my face into his neck. ‘’There is not enough hugs in the world to repay you for this.’’ I said into his black hair.
Leong had had this all planned without even a hint of giving it away to me. He had been so sneaky he had gone to the trouble of telling some of my friends not to add him as a friend on facebook, because if his amount of mutual friends with me, went up, The jig would be up. I would notice something.
It was starting to occur to me the extent of awesomeness that resided in the hearts of some of my loved ones.
Whilst in others the extent was not of awesomeness at all. The stench of passive aggressiveness and cowardice was pungent. Perhaps this whole kidney thing was teaching me some rather important lessons, that expanded beyond the mere physical.
I was growing stronger in many ways.
The afternoon went by in a haze of baked goods and beer and gin.
I did not feel alone.