You can make all those plans and dream the dreams, in a year’s time, in five years, next Christmas. We’ll pay off the mortgage, go travelling, change jobs, move out of the big smoke. My close friend in Thailand dreamed the dream too. Khun Thoomma, 47-years-old, so creative she could carve flowers out of fruit, cook exotic dishes, name all the towering trees at the wonderful Rayavadee where she’d worked for 18 years, and speak to all the guests in their native tongue no matter where they came from. One of the longest serving staff members, living on the property with her little 6-year-old boy, Stephan, Khun Thoomma was a legend. Maybe she would have moved on when she hit the grand 20-year-mark at Rayavadee, maybe not. But she never got the chance to find out. This fantastically vibrant, life-embracing woman woke up last Sunday morning and developed a headache and chest pains. She walked into the hospital and died of a heart attack half-an-hour later, at 10.20 am. Khun Thoomma’s life snuffed out. How can I believe this ? Just 8 weeks ago we spent a part of every day together laughing, she always joked about my oh so annoying habits, taught me how to laugh at troubles, enjoy every moment, names the trees I was so in awe of, and drink down that last glug of wine. What a woman, what a great friend, what a lovely mother to Stephan and her older daughter and son. Where have you suddenly gone so unannounced, leaving everyone behind to gasp and pale in disbelief. I’d be walking to breakfast in the early morning with the sound of hornbills, monkeys in the trees, a distant longtail boat and then that booming voice coming down the path, Chun Rak khun, Khun Sharon. I love you Sharon. I’d look round and she’d be smiling, tall white chef’s hat on, and her pressed apron, all ready for her cooking class with the guests who’d booked her up. I’ll miss you dear friend, I miss you already, am so shocked to have lost you, and have been crying for you overnight, and will for many more nights. Thank you for what you taught me Khun Thoomma and thank you for the time we spent together. I am only grateful that you didn’t suffer and have no knowledge of how much suffering there is now without you.