Reader’s story: “His parents died suddenly. But the wedding went ahead.”

Vanessa with her best friend



It’s hard to believe that over a year have passed since I received the phone call that would forever change my best friend Nancy’s life forever.

As she frantically choked my name down the phone and tried to swallow the horrific news that was about to envelop her chest, seven small words came out: “Ness, they’re dead. Dead. They’re both dead”.

The sudden robotic tone of her voice echoed. As my best friend, my rock and my partner in crime, Nancy’s news devastated me. Attempting to comprehend the mudslide of her words was overwhelming. I sank against the bedroom wall, waiting for the incomprehensible avalanche of truth to sink in.

There had been a horrifying car accident and there were two fatalities: one male and one female. Their identities were that of Nancy’s future in-laws – her fiancé, Renato’s parents.

Two significant people, who, only 24 hours earlier had been defined as parents, grandparents, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunty – were now purely identified as statistics. Two more tallies for the road toll.

These two people were set to witness their son get married on the Amalfi Coast, Italy in July 2012. The wedding had been planned, tickets had been booked and both families were ecstatic at the prospect of a combined European holiday with a destination dream wedding in Positano (the location where Nancy and Renato had met six years earlier).

Walking into Renato’s house the day after the accident, it was impossible not to be shocked by the sight of two brand new luggage sets in the corner of the living room. You could feel the excitement of their preparations. Excitement that would go nowhere.

Nancy and Renato’s wedding

In the days, weeks and months that were to follow, I would witness the personal luggage of profound and insurmountable anguish that Nancy would now carry with her. Yet she did so with a tenacity and ferociousness of strength that is nothing short of extraordinary.

The power of friendship during shocking circumstances such as this, serves as a reminder of just how precious real friends are.

“You are my person Ness,” Nance would often tell me. “I haven’t broken down yet, but when I do it will be with you, not only because I have to be strong for Renato, but because in front of you I know I can.”

We have a basic pact: You hurt, I hurt. It’s as simple as that. It’s been that way since meeting at St Kilda Football Club as colleagues in 2006, where she literally bounced into my life wearing 8 inch aqua Tony Bianco heels, with an infectious personality and a high pitched voice that rivaled that of The Nanny. “Who IS this girl?” I fondly remember thinking.

As she came back from lunch one day and proceeded to show me all the items she had just purchased, Nancy looked at me and said “You really are quiet aren’t you? Well that’s ok because I’m loud so you can just listen to me if you don’t want to talk.”

I laughed because it was true and what was even truer was what she said next, “Don’t worry, we’re going to be the best of friends.” And six years later, after sharing many tears, countless laughs and often too many glasses of wine, there is nothing truer than that.

So last month, as I stood alongside my best friend Nancy as a bridesmaid on her wedding day in Italy’s captivating town of Positano along the stunning Amalfi Coast, I observed the immeasurable amount of strength that it takes to love someone.

Seeing Renato’s eyes smiling at his bride as she walked down the aisle truly encapsulated the true meaning of marriage. To them, it was significant to honour Renato’s parents and their absence on the day in fact created the biggest presence.

At a time when they could have been forgiven for not wanting to go ahead with their wedding or could have easily withdrawn from each other, Nancy and Renato chose the two basic principles that cement any relationship – commitment and trust.

Commitment that they would not leave each other’s side, even when there was anger, confusion and devastating grief. And trust. Trust that while the loss of Renato’s parents was soul destroying, there would come a time where they could smile and accept that although they will never ‘get over this’, they will learn to live with it, day by day.


It was on a recent trip to Italy for her best friend’s wedding that Vanessa read Mamamia (while drinking limoncello and eating copious amounts of prosciutto). After five years working in the media and communications industry, Mia’s story gave her the courage to take the plunge and do what truly makes her happy – writing.

nailed it

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