She is a lawyer.
No, to be precise, she is a barrister. A distinction she is always quick to point-out, ‘We wear the wigs, darling,’ she scolds me, with her deep, husky voice. That bit – wearing wigs – always makes me laugh. A white wig, on-top of her weaved, black Caribbean hair. Yes, she is a barrister. I didn’t see how it was possible, but then again, I barely finished high school, and know nothing about the law, except what I’ve watched on Judge Judy. She was a stunner, my friend, not Judge Judy (sorry JJ), and when she initially spoke, she sounded the part (of a barrister that is, not a stunner). But once you scratched her surface, (or her veneer), you realised that she really was a bit, well… dim. But I liked her company. And she had a decent heart.
Not too soon after meeting her, I would soon find out that she had a bit of a reputation for her courtroom antics. What she lacked in legal finesse, she made up with such theatrical flair, that judges and opposition alike, loved sparring with her. Rumour has it, that during a trial involving a cosmetic company, she purposely shouted out, Mascara! rather than Objection! banging her hand on table so hard, she almost broke it. The judge, use to her theatrics, did not miss a beat, and quickly retorted, Lipgloss – duly satisfied that she did not pull a fast one, over him. The whole courtroom laughed. Levity. She brought… levity. She lost the case. She loses a lot more than she wins, but as she says, ‘you grow accustomed to losing. It helps you appreciate winning a lot more. Never get to use to winning.’
She found out about a year ago. A routine examination caught it. Caught early enough, but it was terminal all the same. She swore me to secrecy and refused to tell me how long she had, ‘That’s not important to know, I even wish they hadn’t told me.’ She carried-on living the life she had, until it, the cancer, took its toll. Month by month, she slowed down until she came to a near standstill, the secret impossible to be kept, secret. ‘This is the bit I hate’, she told me, ‘everyone showing me their pity, reminding me that I’m dying. Show me the pity when I’m dead. Show me the pity at the funeral. I’ll appreciate it a lot more then.’
In her last two weeks, it was just she and I. She had no family – none that I knew about. Alone together for the last two hours. Alone for her last words. She opened her eyes and said, ‘rosebud.’ She laughed, theatrical the very end. ‘You get used to losing. It helps you appreciate winning a lot more. Never get to use to winning.’
1 hour and 37 minutes later, she was gone.