The first time I met you, I remember telling my friends afterwards what an amazing landlord you were. Caring, thoughtful, funny, honest and kind. A tenant’s dream.
The world seemed to be at your feet. You were a bubbly mix of nervousness and excitement about the opening of the aquatic centre you managed, something I could tell you were passionate about, somewhere I now know you were much loved and admired.
We talked about our suburb. You told me about the locals; the familiar faces and eccentricities. About your house which I now occupied; the barbeques you hosted; the footy on the weekend; the love and joy it brought you. About the beauty of its views of the adjacent oval; the pinks and reds, mustards and blues that graced its evening skies. When you found out about my love of drawing, you cheekily asked me to paint you a canvas of the view. I laughed, and said I would try.
Thursday, 17 July 2014. Having repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried the property manager, I leave you a text message saying that I hoped you were well and letting you know that there was a problem with the bathroom sink. I did not want it to cost you a lot down the track.
It was so uncharacteristic of you not to respond immediately. To tell me you were busy but would try to pop by to check it out yourself. Because you liked to fix things yourself.
Saturday 19 July 2014. It felt strange, so I tried the real estate agency again. Having worked a long time ago at a real estate agency, I knew how it worked. There weren’t a lot of file notes about the problem, the receptionist explained. It was not urgent, the receptionist explained. I said to her: I know it’s not urgent, but there was water damage and I don’t want it to cost the landlord money.
She paused, the kind of hesitant pause that tells you there is more.
There is a file note that says the landlord passed away. That’s probably why no one has contacted you.
You were only 32. I could not believe that a walking, talking living bubbly heart with a daggy hat and a friendly handshake was no longer with us.
There must’ve been a mistake, I kept telling myself.
Until. Until my sister googled your name.
Every day since our first conversation, I looked out at the view, waiting for just the right light, just the right sky.
I never found the right sky for you.
There are no words to describe my heavy sadness at your loss. The fact that I’m so sad despite our brief acquaintance just goes to show what an amazing person you are.
You are more than a file note.