This is the first in a series of posts where I introduce what I’ve learned about Gaia to the world, based on conversations I’ve had with her mum, aunt, older sister and twin sister. You can read more about how this came about here.
Everyone I spoke with made some mention of how expressive Gaia was, how she became animated when she spoke, often using her body to illustrate a point.
‘Gaia was so big, even when she was little… she was very, I guess flamboyant’.
Kim, Gaia’s mum, illustrates this remark by demonstrating the way Gaia would sweep into a room, with a sort of sashay of her shoulders and a smile at the camera. The smile fades quickly, but in that second I think I saw a glimpse of joy, of remembering, before the pain took over. She adds, almost to herself:
‘She was a wonderful child in every way… [I was] very lucky and privileged that she was my daughter’.
I didn’t ever get to meet Gaia but it’s not hard to imagine her in these conversations. There is such strong familial likeness, between Kim and her sister Talia (Gaia’s aunt), and between Clara and Maya (her older sister and twin) and Marienna (her cousin).
Another word for expressive might be loud, but that sounds blunt and unkind in some way, yet not when Gaia’s family use it. Talia talks about Gaia being very expressive and having ‘quite a loud voice with a natural gravelly texture’.
I’m going to be upfront now, and say that I enjoyed speaking to all the family members I spoke with, they each offered memories and insights that together built a strong picture of Gaia for me, but I loved speaking with Gaia’s twin, Maya.
I could have spoken to Maya for days. She’s sparky and bright, her conversation jumps around a little from one topic to the next, she thinks about things, she has Aspergers and was upfront about that. I know she gave a lot of herself talking to me, but I came off that call feeling like I’d been let into something so intimate, in her sharing their twin relationship. I’ll focus on that more tomorrow, but I have a deep respect and gratitude for Maya sharing her memories with me. This is what she had to say in relation to Gaia being expressive.
Maya shared how she was the quieter one of the twins, never really understanding people that well, she described Gaia like this:
‘Gaia was flamboyant… she was a mixture of introvert and extrovert…. not crazy in your face sort of person, but she had a certain level of confidence to her. She had more understanding of the world than I did, I guess she had better inter-personal relationships.
[I asked Maya about whether she was always cool with that, or whether at times she found it irritating]
I found it helpful when we were younger, Gaia would literally lead me by the hand. Sometimes it would be annoying though, I suffered with sensory things, so in moments of excitement Gaia would be loud and clap her hands and just get louder and louder, and I would find it too much, and just be sat with my hands clamped over my ears’.
My call with Clara, Gaia and Maya’s elder sister, was very informative too. Clara was a bit more circumspect at first, I mean who wouldn’t be, but we chatted for ages and I felt maybe she relaxed into things a little. Clara shared stories that won’t see the light of day here, but that cemented my sense of who Gaia was, how feisty and determined and driven by an inner sense of justice she was.
Clara also used the word loud when describing Gaia. She said:
‘Gaia was such a loud personality in the best possible way; even in her laughing she was never a delicate laugh, unless she was fake laughing, [she herself laughs as she remembers that]… she was always really just loud, very loud laughter… unfiltered’.
Unfiltered is a great word. The dictionary definition is ‘not modified, processed, or refined’. Many of the little snippets of Gaia that I’ll share with you over the next week or so speak to this lack of filtering and living life wholly and unreservedly.
Gaia sounds like one amazing young woman, I hope you’ll pop back tomorrow to learn more about her.