Tomorrow it will be five years to the day that my best friend (who was like a sister) passed away. I thought I’d share the tribute I did at her funeral.
“When I was a little girl I asked dear lord Jesus to send me a best friend. I was very specific: my best friend had to be a girl (because at the time I thought boys were smelly and a general pain in the butt) but most importantly I wanted us to be kindred spirits (that’s almost like a soul mate: to know each other inside and out). I have many friends. But nobody fit the description from my prayer quite like Shantal did. We fit each other like a glove.
Shani inspired confidence! I fondly remember our girl’s nights out: she’d force me on the dance floor. Sure, she laughed at my chicken dance (it’s an acquired taste) but when I watched how she moved: with such grace and confidence, how she’d melt into the music …it was magic. Luckily, I was able to pick up her skill and now I dance better than she did. (ha ha ha).
Jislaaik! But Shani was bossy—some might even call her tjatjarag. I’d often have to remind her that I was one year older than her and thus she should be the one listening to me. Her constant refrain was that age ain’t nothing but a number. She was mature beyond her years – like a good wine.
Shani had the most infectious laugh. I was so infected by it that I’d go out of my way to make her laugh. But she wasn’t an easy audience. She thought my knock-knock jokes tedious and boring, rolling her eyes in reply. I guess she just didn’t have a sense of humour. Have I told ya’ll my chicken joke? Ha ha ha
Shani had the warmest smile. She could smile all your troubles away. She always seemed to know exactly what to say or do or more importantly when not say anything. Many times I’d tell her that she grounded me. And that’s true. I often think the sky is falling, but Shani always managed to show me the rainbow.
You guys remember, Shani loved the colour red. She experimented with all the different shades of red hair dye. Her hair was so red that I don’t think even the most accomplished salon colourist would be able to emulate it. Until today I don’t know what her original hair colour was. It was a closely guarded secret and should remain so. Because the colour red suited her. She was fiery …passionate. She was warm. She was impossible to ignore. And often times she served as my stop sign. That’s why my nails are red. In honour of my kindred spirit, my sister, Shani.
Shani is my sister. We stole the hearts of each other’s parents and siblings – me through my endless wit and charm and her because, well you couldn’t know Shantal and not fall in love with her. We were together so often that people thought we were twins. Complete opposites though. I’d always go against the grain, and Shani was a straight laced kinda gal. She’d often raise an eyebrow at my latest exploit. Many times she’d try to reason with me. I wore her down eventually though. When I told her of my plan to grow dreadlocks, she just smiled and said “Ja, Candice, it would be you”.
I’m grateful that we matured together though: our friendship evolved over these 14 years. But throughout all of that, Shani remained true to her dream. All she ever wanted was to have a family of her own. I recall how Shani, after a particularly disastrous date, joked about kissing a few toads before she found her prince. She did, you know, find her prince. Her soul mate. How wonderful their wedding was going to be. She would have made an exceptional wife and mother.
Shantal was a natural hostess; she just had that way of making you feel at home. And oh my goodness, could she cook! My mouth waters just thinking of her Sunday lunches. Man o man! Anyone remember the watertand crab curry?!
Nothing could get Shani down. During life, she took many knocks, faced many disappointments. But each time she’d get up, pick up the pieces and start over. It’s like she had this reservoir of strength that never emptied. I loved that about her; in fact I drew upon that strength many times. I’m gonna miss that the most.
I’d like to close with these words: Everyone leaves footprints in your memory, but the ones that leave footprints in your heart are the ones you will truly remember.
And so to Shani, my only boog, I’ll see you on the other side someday, and carry the memory of you in my heart every step of the way.
I thank you.”
Rest In Peace