My name is Luke Edward Ollett. I was born to Dick Ollett and Zoë Alexandra Payne.
I was only 18 when Zoë passed away. I was in the middle of defining my own identity, my own self exploration as a man and as a human. I chose to react to her death with stoicism and decided to deal with my own burgeoning life, over remembering hers.
Decades later, I realized that there is so much I wanted to tell her. So much I wish I could share with her. I felt the absoluteness of death was unfair and got in the way of our relationship. I needed to tell her I had lived in multiple countries. I needed a way to share with her that I liked animals, that I learned another language, that I suck at drawing but call myself an artist. I needed to show my love and appreciation for her, something I had never done.
And to make it worse, I often forgot the sound of her voice, the curl of her smile. I struggled to remember when we last touched each other. And I felt like a horrible person for that.
Our relationship felt incomplete and I didn’t know what to do about it.
I wish I hadn’t been a naive teenager who chose not to care more during those last few difficult years of her life. I don’t know what I would have done, or could have done, but when she decided that life wasn’t just hard, but impossible, I wish I would’ve been there for her… with her.
This book is my journey to find my dead mother’s art through the names in this book, the people that knew her more than I ever did. To understand who she was, not only as my mother but as a friend, a lover, a partier, a person.