Cullen girls in younger years at our house in Tawa, Wellington (Rochelle, Hayley, Juliette, Karlene (front), Estelle, Melissa)
Estelle in Juliette's 21st book - Estelle would ring and say "Hiiiiiiiiiiii - it's meeeeeeee" and Mum would say "Yes Estelle, you can come for the weekend!".
Estelle, Lloyd & Pop at Pop's 80th in 1989 - at our house in Mairangi Bay, Auckland
Pop, Estelle & Teresa - at Aunty Renais and Uncles Rich's place in Te Puke
Estelle, Karlene & Melissa - at Waimairi Beach Café on 11th September 2010
We spent time together in our younger years - getting up to mischief as you and Juliette paired off, Rochelle & Hayley and Melissa and I. I remember visits from your Nana Stace at your house in Henderson and numerous fun times in your pool and backyard. I didn't see much of you in your 20's as we all grew up and moved on to different cities and countries. But in a funny kind of way I feel like I've caught up on your 20's - living through the fun times as I read the wonderful memories your friends have of you. You certainly lit up many lives and you will live on in my memory. You were a loving friend to many and I feel blessed that you were both a friend and a cousin.
My most recent memory of you is when we met at the Waimairi Beach Café when I was down from Auckland for a friend's 40th - just the week after the first earthquake. I had the nicest catch up with you and Melissa and I remember thinking you lit up the room as you walked in. You knew a few people in the café, and I got the feeling you knew someone everywhere you went! Your peach cardigan was gorgeous and I hunted high and low for the same necklace but the shop had sold out. My impression of you was that you were very stylish and loved accessories. I feel very lucky to have seen you on that trip - little did I know it would be the last time we would meet.
I will think of you now, as I do my housework (yes, I like a clean house too!) and re-organise my wardrobe. When I'm next shopping for clothes and jewellery, I will think of you. But most of all, when I think of you I will think of… "Sunshine through my window, that's what you are, my shining star"… (from a favourite Gabrielle song "Sunshine"). Whether it be a shining star or a bird flying free, we know that you'll be watching over us from somewhere.
Before I finish, I want you to know how amazing your sisters have been. Coming from a trio of girls myself, I can only imagine how hard it must be for them right now. You would be so so very proud of them, as they are of you. I have not met Jacob yet but I can tell from the photos of you and him that you were very much in love and Hayley and Melissa will take good care of him.
Love from your cousin, Karlene x