The whole concept of a person being here one minute and then gone the next was wild to her.
It’s not that she hadn’t dealt with death before, it was part and parcel of having a big family she’d learnt over the years; you were basically signed up to a never-ending cycle of marriages, births and deaths. But it always knocked her for six when she was told the news and this time was no different. Sitting at her work desk, she was mindlessly sending emails whilst online shopping, when a message popped up on her phone screen: Poli Pua passed away.
WTF. How? When? Why? So many questions flooded her mind all at once. As her sisters launched into a rapid back and forth dialogue in the group chat, all she could do was stare gormlessly at the illuminating screen. Guilt.
When was the last time I actually made the effort to go and see her instead of just having a chat whenever she popped round to see us? She racked her brain but couldn’t remember. A lump began to form in her throat and her eyes started to sting. All she could see was an image of her Pua cackling hysterically as she was known to do at the most random things.
Her other uncles and aunties were forever mistakenly calling her by one of her sisters’ names, but never Poli Pua, she knew her niece well.
She wasn’t one to fire the bog standard question of “How’s work?” whenever she came round. Instead she was more likely to ask, “What are the people like that you work with?” or “What kind of job will you find next?” And would then proceed to listen with intent to the answer. She had the gift of the gab teamed with an inquisitive yet genuine nature; a rare combination of traits to find.
She’d relay with a huge smile just how much she would dance at her niece’s wedding and how she’d never allow her to move too far away from home.
And then all at once, she remembered her Pua’s hugs. They were legendary. Bear-like and full of warmth. She’d hold on tight and long enough to let you know just how happy she was to see you.
And now she’s gone. Just like that.