Stories & Articles

Death is waiting for me

Death is waiting for me.

It’s snapping at my heels.  

Who knows how it will happen…

or when?

Life is one long series of wins and losses.

And one day… I’ll lose it ALL.

 In late 2016.  I lost two people whom I loved very much.

Belinda Lim

(my friend and producer of many of my artistic projects).


Pat Cole

(one of my mother’s best friends)

Vanessa and Belinda

I met Belinda at a cafe.  

I was writing in a birthday card, when a beautiful Asian woman approached my table, pulled the  birthday card out of my hand and said:

“Who are you writing to?”

I knew from that moment, that this cocky woman and I would be lifelong friends.

We drank together, partied together, danced together and fucked together.  

​When I went out with Bella, I was the ugly duckling.  

I would stand to the side as guy after guy would try to chat her up.  Her magic drew the wolves and I couldn’t compete.

Bella came from extreme wealth.  Her family owned the land of many of the Asian restaurants on Russell Street, Melbourne. 

She would always be the FIRST to jump on board as a producer for anything I wrote, starred in or created.  

Working on the film – Gemini Descending. (Belinda Lim Left, Vanessa as Marilyn)

I remember ringing her late one night half-trashed and telling her that I felt guilt for all the money she had poured into my creative projects with no returns.

“Your success will be my repayment Nessa.”  Bella said.

After my nervous breakdown in 2011.  

I stopped socialising.  

I stopped acting.  

I consciously ceased communication with all the ‘old crew’ or anything that reminded me of the entertainment industry.

It was at this time Bella and I grew apart.  (But not in a bad way).

We spoke on the phone  several times.  

​We  were busy living our OWN lives.  

When I received an email from Bella’s boyfriend Scott in late 2016, telling me Belinda had passed away from cancer.  I was beside myself.  I didn’t even know Bella had cancer!

When I told my friend Max, (who has also since passed away from cancer).

He told me that he had run into Bella at the hospital where they were both having chemo.

“Are you serious Max? Why didn’t you tell me?”  I said.  
“She asked me not to tell you Ness.  And one has to respect a dying person’s wishes.  But you were the first person she asked about.  She asked me if you were still following your dreams.”  (verbatim)

I have kept that text about Belinda from Max.  I will NEVER delete it.  

Belinda was a proud, proud human being.  She wouldn’t have wanted sympathy or pity.

I just would’ve liked the opportunity to be there for her through her cancer battle. I would’ve liked to have told her how much I loved her.

 But that outcome wasn’t to be. 

Bella was 40 when she died.  The age I am now.

Pat Cole (red hair) and Pat, Jacqui, Ron and Vanessa. 2013

For as long as I’ve been alive.  Pat Cole has been part of my life.  

For over 40 years, Mum and her girlfriends would meet on the FIRST Tuesday of every month for lunch and a few drinks.

When Mum died.  Pat stepped into Mum’s place.  She would write me letters and send me cards on my birthday and at Christmas.

She would give me the support that I craved regarding my career. (Like Mum had done).

On the 10 year anniversary of Mum’s death.  I suggested to Pat, that I fly over to Perth and we visit Mum’s grave together then have lunch.  She was excited about the plan.

But on the morning of my flight, I couldn’t find my photo ID — which meant I couldn’t board the plane.

My disorganised life robbed me of what would have been my last connection with Pat in person.

Sometimes we forget that everything is temporary.  We think people we love are going to live forever.

Pat died of a brain aneurysm out of the blue.  And the way I discovered the news was the worst way imaginable.

I NEVER read the West Australian newspaper.  (the newspaper of my hometown).

The only time, I LOOK at the West Australian newspaper, is when I’m placing a death notice for an elderly relative back in my hometown of Perth.

As I was placing a death notice for a cousin.  I saw Pat Cole’s name in the obituaries.  

(her family had tried to contact me — but at an old email address).

I was floored.  Massive loud sobs left my body.  Not only had I lost Pat, I’d lost the last piece of my mother.

Pat and Belinda’s deaths were the driving force in me going to London in March 2017.  

All this dilly-dallying around in the dead Australian acting and writing industry was a waste of my life.

I would never be REALISED in this sunburnt country!

The only phrase that would repeat itself over and over in my head was:


​But you know what?

I’m not dead yet!