It's been eight months since you passed away.
On Saturday 15 December 2018, I learned the terrible news that you had taken your life. This was, and still is, completely unfathomable. You were confident, successful, happy, funny, loved – I could keep going with superlatives. You had an amazing wife, Wendy, and a gorgeous cat called Badger. I'd seen you just the weekend prior to that Saturday, when you and Wendy had been visiting for Kate and Nick's joint birthday. Life was great - you'd recently left Auckland to head home to the UK and spend time with friends and family before starting to build a life in Sydney, where you'd been headhunted for a top advertising role. You were happy and excited about the future; or so it seemed. Rachel, your death was completely out of the blue!
I wish you could have seen your Auckland crew when we caught up to do something we never thought we would: toasting to you and trying to provide each other with some sort of comfort. If this had been a normal Monday afternoon at the pub, you would have been there, sipping rosé and laughing with your mates. I wish you could have heard what we talked about – the happy and funny times we'd had with you. And, ultimately, I wish that you could have seen how utterly devastated everyone was at the news of your death – maybe if you'd seen that, you wouldn't have made the decision to do what you did. Maybe you didn't know how loved and valued you were, and how any one of the people in that room would have given anything to help you; if you'd been able to reach out. I'm sorry that you didn't know that or felt you were beyond that point.
Everyone's life had been touched by you, Rach. We'd shared great times and you'd helped a lot of us in one way or another. You'd shared your expertise at work, you'd given out sound advice when people needed it, you'd listened, you'd gone in to bat for us; and now you were gone. You were one of the strongest people I know and, unfortunately, the demons in your head had somehow got the better of you.
In January, Wendy organised a beautiful memorial for your Auckland crew. We read your eulogy and the Letter to 15-Year-Old Me you had written only months before your passing. In true Rachel style, this was full of humour, sound advice for a younger you and written beautifully; it articulated the strength and independence you had as a person. Finally, we wrote notes and Rachel musings that Wendy could take back to share with your family, so they could see just how loved you were. I bet you would laugh reading these – there were some great little stories in there.
You would be so proud of Wendy, Rach. She has displayed strength and courage that, given the circumstances, is completely awe-inspiring. She regularly shares photos of you and somehow manages to put one foot in front of the other. She is also starting to share your story in the hope that she can help others in a similar situation deal with the grief that she is experiencing. And whilst this is incredibly painful for her, selflessly, she's doing it for other people, in your honour. I know that you're with her constantly and that you always will be.
There have been so many moments where we've all asked ourselves why. And: could I have seen this coming? Maybe if we'd had some sort of sign that weekend prior to your death, or at any stage, we could have asked the simplest of questions: are you okay? And you might have still been here with us. It's difficult to find closure as there are so many unknown aspects and unanswered questions. It's going to take a long time for everyone to heal, Rach, and you're going to need to share some of your strength with us all, from wherever you are now. And if there is any positive that can come from this: we've all been woken up to the need to check in on our loved ones more, especially the strongest of the strongest who, previously, we would have assumed were okay.
We were with you when Spurs made the Champions League Final (and commiserated at that 2nd minute penalty) and raised a glass for you on what would have been your 39th birthday. You will always be with us and in our thoughts. I hope you can see how much love there is for you, Rachel, that you'll never be forgotten and that you are somewhere sunny, sipping on rosé and keeping an eye out for your loved ones.
Rest in paradise, Rach. X