It’s with immense sadness that I write about my best friend, Camille’s death. Camille – known as CurlyPops – had an incredibly full life, which we celebrated today. Today would also have been her 45th birthday.
I know she wasn’t one for resting, so I bet her calendar is full to the brim, wherever she is now.
This is the speech I gave at her celebration today. You can watch it here.
Remember when we first met? Like most of my friendships, I met you online. It was 2010. You and I were both writing for a Government website called DiVine. I read a piece you wrote about being a blogger and enjoying craft and fashion, and how blogging brought you many friendships – connecting you with the world when you were unwell. This resonated with me. So I searched for you on Facebook and introduced myself.
You sounded like my kind of friend. I hoped you’d accept my friend request. You did. We chatted online for a while, and in early 2011, we met for the first time. I was a bit nervous. Would I be fashionable enough for you?
I always meet people from the internet in a public space. So it was amusing that I met you in hospital. Of course you looked so stylish in hospital, you never wore a beige gown. I think whoever supplies the hospital clothing should have commissioned a line of Curlypops pyjamas from you.
I took you some chocolate and a quilting magazine, and the woman in the bed next to you made a comment about how sunburnt I look. We laughed at that for years.
We became firm friends – hanging out regularly. You helped make so many of my events amazing with your creativity, including styling my wedding and being my bridesmaid – fitting me into your very busy life.
I had so much fun with you. You never ever let me down. I told you everything. You understood the challenge of working full time and having a chronic illness. You always cheered me on, as I did you. You are the best friend I’ve ever had.
One night, while having a big night in at your place, crafting – making brooches – you introduced me to this new little app called Instagram. I was hooked. You later told me never to ask a stranger to take an outfit photo – I could always trust you to be a good Instagram wife. I cherish all of our photos together, all the lunches and shopping trips – especially that last op-shop visit we had when you bought that spectacular green dress that you wore on your final day at work. It was perfect for you. I so loved wearing bright clothes with you.
Instagram is where your community is at. Online friends are real friends. There you shared snippets of your incredible life – holidays, your fabulous dressmaking, your gorgeous nephews, and #BaconPalooza. You loved Instagram so much – you told me Instagram was your way of journaling your life through the good and the bad.
Our friend Jason said you’re the ultimate Instagram influencer – he’s right. You’re a brilliant community builder, and used social media for so much good. From sew-alongs on your blog, to Donate Life awareness and fundraising, to quilt swaps, and quietly supporting people preparing for and post transplant. Towards the end of your life you shared what it was like to live with terminal cancer.
When we first got talking online in 2010, you told me that you admired how open I was about my illness, that you feared you’d be treated differently if you were open about yours. “I think I may have learned a very good lesson from you today Carly!”, you said. And then you became so open about being chronically ill on social media. You taught us all so very much, and your social media pages and blog are great resources for other chronically ill and disabled people, and the medical profession. I am honoured that I played a little part in shaping your online patient advocacy.
Even now you’re not here, you’ve got a hashtag dedicated to you – #ColourForCam – created by Nicole James who has asked people to keep using it when they take photos of things they make, or when they see beautiful things that you’d like.
Beautiful Camille. Curlypops. I can’t imagine a world without you. There’s been no way to prepare for you not being here. After your lung transplant, I posted a picture of you and me on Facebook, and captioned it “thanks to your generous donor and their family for giving us many, many more years of friendship.” I just wish we, that everyone here today and watching on the live stream, had more years with you.
But you’re still here with us. In the rainbows, the flowers, the rolls of fabric and all the brightly coloured pretty dresses, in the dog tail wags and the wafts of frying bacon. You’re in the colour, the laughter and the joy. You’re in courage and bravery. You’re in the beautiful friendships that you created and brought together. You’re in your incredibly well mannered nephews. You’re in the strength of patient advocacy. You taught us all to notice the small things and live life to the fullest. Thank you for the beautiful friendship, for all the memories. I love you forever. 💔
I say you’re my best friend, but the truth is, you are so many people’s best friend. My love goes out to everyone who loves you too.
I want to end with a quote I found while searching through your writing. This is a blog comment you left someone in 2012. You’ve lived this mantra every day.
“One of the benefits of having a chronic illness and being on a transplant waiting list is that you gain the most amazing appreciation of life.
I try to live each and every day with happiness and push myself as far as I can go, because you just never know when this ride will end.
Life is way too short to be miserable!”
In Camille’s honour please consider making a donation to the Heart and Lung Transplant Trust of Victoria.