How do you say goodbye?
How do you come to terms with death when it strikes from nowhere with no warning?
How do you fill that space that is left when the funeral is done and the people have gone?
How do you console a wife and a friend who is going through something you can only imagine?
Let me try with words.
It was one of those magic evenings. Special. Even at the time we knew that. It was a late summer afternoon on the Macintyre River at Yetman.
Kath, Blocky and I paddled canoes. We drifted lazily downstream, fishing rods strung out with no expectations. Brian and Dave took the tinnie and all the flash fishing gear. I don’t remember them catching anything more than us.
He will remain at the helm.
At the bottom of a long pool we all stopped and nattered and watched as the sun slipped towards the western horizon.
I will see him still in the reflections.
A long paddle upstream beckoned and Brian and Dave smirked at our motor-less canoes. But we were smart. We threw stored ropes at them and were attached to the tinnie.
There was skylarking. Blocky went overboard and tried to surface through an overturned canoe. Brian dived to the rescue.
Subdued we settled back and consented to being towed.
And there is Kath on the right – as happy as you’d ever see her
The stars came out. Twilight descended. We passed a river homestead with its jetty awash with lights. We drank in the smell of river gums and listened as the cockatoos gave their last defiant squawk. We were touched by the velvet of night.
On dry land there was a BBQ on the back of a grubby farm ute. A splendid spread. And maybe beers. Yes, definitely beers – possibly some rum.
There was no campfire that night. But the embers blazed fierce on other nights.
I will remember him with the river and the fire and the rum – definitely the rum.
Farewell Dave. May the waterholes be long and the fish many.