I’ve known Louise since I was five-years-old.
We sat side by side in Mrs Robinson’s grade one class and became instant bosom buddies in that Anne of Green Gables/ Diana Barry, Mary Tyler Moore/Rhoda Morgenstern, Laverne De Fazio/Shirley Feeney kind of way.
She was the girl with the sparkly, mischievous eyes. I was the girl whose parents dropped her at school in an orange Leyland P76. Nevertheless, we were united by our love for Leif Garrett and HR Pufnstff.
Since that fateful first meeting, our friendship has gone on to span 37 years.
Primary school, high school, university, first loves, first jobs, first perms, first dates. Last dates. We have seen each other through it all. Louise’s dad being diagnosed with terminal cancer. The stillbirth of my daughter Georgie. My Vegas wedding (and, er, my quickie divorce). Her revelation that she was gay.
There was the year she took me by the shoulders and shook me out of an emotionally abusive relationship.
And the time I gently pointed out the long-distance love affair she was in had ended long ago.
And in between all of this we talked of love. Finding it. Keeping it. Losing it. Screwing it up. The times it was unrequited. The times our hearts were smashed up, so bruised we thought we’d never recover. We despaired some days of ever meeting ‘the one’. We wondered and pondered and worried and stressed about whether we would ever find someone who would truly love us. Get us. Cherish the weird, stupid, foolish bits we so often tried to hide from the world. We talked about babies. And weddings. And houses by the beach. And raising kids who would be best friends and love the Counting Crows’ August and Everything After album as much as we did.
When I met and married my husband Brad, Lou stood next to me and cheered me on as though the wedding was her own.
And then she met Felicity.
And I knew.
I knew from the first time I heard the way Lou’s voice changed, softened, floated when she first mentioned Felicity’s name.
I knew from the photos I saw. Their eyes. Their smiles. That look someone has when finally they are truly themselves, comfortable in their own skin. Loved unconditionally.
I knew from the moment I saw them together in person. That zing you feel when you’re around two people who are gloriously happy and in love.
I knew that she was it. The person. The great love Lou had longed and hoped and dreamt about since we were five-years-old.
And I cannot imagine a more perfect love, best friend, companion for my best friend.
Two weeks ago Lou and Flick married on a day a new government was voted in to run the country. They married on a day when both sides of politics chose to stand on the wrong side of history. They married on a day when the entire Brisbane sky behaved like it was auditioning for a storybook – all brilliant blue, shimmery and cloudless. And in an inner-city park that was bustling with picnics and kites and cricket matches amongst mates – 150 of Lou and Flick’s friends and family and dozens and dozens of complete strangers who happened to be in the park that day stood around these two women, to witness Lou and Flick say “I do”. To bloody well cheer them on.
Because for Louise and Felicity marriage is about more than ‘the law’. It’s about community and accountability and they wanted to take the opportunity to make themselves accountable for their relationship with the people they love. And while they’ll keep advocating for marriage equality, for them the greatest advocacy activity they could undertake was to go ahead and have a wedding to show they believe marriage is important and valid
Watching my daughter Ava and Lou’s niece Ella act as flower girls, giggling and whispering and waving as they carried a bunch of candy store coloured balloons down the aisle is a moment I will cherish. Watching Lou – her face beaming with joy – walk down the aisle on her mother’s arm towards the love of her life was one of the truly great days of my life.
Because she bloody did it. In this cynical, tricky old world, Lou found that big love we all want. One that is true and real and good.
One day in the not too distant future I hope our politicians will feel foolish and small-minded and, frankly, ashamed for acting as though this great love, this marriage between two women who adore each other is somehow not real. Not worthy.
Because I was there. I have seen it with my own eyes.
And let me tell you, Lou is awesome. And so is her wife.
*Thanks to Elleni Toumpas for permission to use her photos.
*Unfortunately we’ve had to keep Louise and Felicity’s identity secret because they work as aid workers in a country where it is illegal to be gay. Sigh.