Never go into business with anyone. Especially not a friend and especially not a family member.
That was what I was told. You’ve probably been told too.
So when I ignored that advice and partnered up with one of my closest girlfriends, Kristy, to start a business, I felt like I’d discovered a secret.
I felt smug.
I had something no one else had. The unicorn.
A friend in business that was like the perfect marriage (not that I know what one of those feels like, but it’s how I imagine it to be).
Mutual love, mutual respect. In fact we often joked that we should’ve married each other (no offence to her hubby, she loved you too).
And I’m not saying all of this because she died.
If you had asked me then, I would have said all of this and more. When I scroll through our messages there weren’t a lot of days that passed without an; “i love you” or “you’re amazing”.
It was and always will be, the ultimate love story.
Sometimes, (actually almost always), I have a hard time believing it ever happened. Was she ever real? Was she here at all? And I want the lessons I learnt in losing my friend, my great love and business partner …….. to never fade.
Otherwise, what was it all for?
Let’s talk about ‘before’.
Before she died I felt I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed her because I wasn’t ‘enough’ by myself. She was ‘the smart one’ and when I was around her, my presence as a human on this earth was elevated, because of her.
Before I was scared to be myself, of saying the wrong thing. She was nicer and kinder and I looked for her guidance, often to say; “Elsa, you probably shouldn’t say that”.
Before I had goals and aspirations I wanted so badly but I was too terrified to pursue. Public speaking scared the crap out of me (even though I wanted to do it so badly) and I’d shake like a leaf whenever I got on a stage. But then, she was there to hold my hand and get me through it. (Look at me now, give me a soapbox and a mic any day).
Before I was too afraid to be who I wanted to be, live the way I wanted to live and to say what I wanted to say.
But then she died. Taken at 38 years of age with 3 small children, by an aggressive breast cancer that showed no mercy. The kindest soul I’d ever known.
9 Months on it’s safe to say I haven’t fully processed that loss, but I know what I learnt amongst unspeakable grief. And they are lessons I wish we could all learn without the heartache.
5 Lessons I learnt from my business partner dying…….
“You will stress, worry and lose sleep over the dumbest things; and then you will die and no one will care about any of it”.
Got too drunk last night? Said the wrong thing? Posted something on social media that you regret? Or worse… didn’t post, didn’t show up because you were scared of looking silly. Angry client? NO ONE CARES!! Honestly, this is the brutal truth. Kristy was the best person I knew – she died, we felt sad, we moved on. Yes my heart is broken every day, but I continue to live. Life moves on. It sounds harsh but it is true. The dumb shit you worry about – it aint worth it!
P.S – on the whole ‘got too drunk’ thing, a wise woman once told me as long as you didn’t kill someone or take a dump in front of anyone – you’re all good! (Kristy would have said – you can’t write that).
Amongst unfathomable cruelty dealt by the universe; there is much beauty. It was hard to hold onto thoughts of ‘screw you cruel world’ and ‘why do the good ones die?’ when the love and support that poured and flowed from everyone Kristy had ever met (and then all those she hadn’t) was enormous.
It actually does not matter, what anyone else thinks. The day Kristy died was the day I stopped caring about anyone else’s opinion of me. I wish I could give that gift to you because it is the most powerful shift you can make. Just do the thing you want to do, who gives a sh!t if it doesn’t work out?
‘I get too’. I can’t claim this line, I first heard it from Turia Pitt, one of my personal heros. When mortality is shoved in your face (as Kristy used to say), you start to change ‘I have to’ to ‘I get to’. I get to pay my bills, I get to be in iso and have my kids drive me nuts for 2 weeks, I get to launch my new business and fail and I get to learn that lesson.
YOLO is really a thing. So corny right, but honestly, you only live once and if you died tomorrow, would you have regrets? Like if you really think about it, would you feel happy with all you did and all you didn’t do? Like really? If not, pull your sh!t together and do something about it.
Anyway, this is not profound, I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to learn these lessons. But in sharing them, I pay tribute to my friend….. and she’s worth it.