Try as we might to avoid it, we are all bound for the ultimate exit – a one way door to oblivion.
This reality overwhelms me, and so, like most, I avoid the inevitability. I plan for an unending future, determined to locate the Philosopher’s Stone.
Reality has a way of creeping in...
Teresa Blake was a 58-year-old woman.
Fierce. Funny. Fabulous.
A mother. A grandmother. A wife. A friend.
Her smile was big. Her heart was bigger.
On August 16, 2018, Teresa drew her final breath. She had been on the front line of a battle with cancer. Like so many others, she held strong, determined to stand her ground. Like so many others, she was unable to outlast her enemy.
Cancer - cutting short another beautiful life....
Teresa was my brother’s mother-in-law. His partner, Tarshi has suffered this week, under the weight of an unimaginable loss. Her mother, her best friend – no longer with us. Simply gone. The finality of it – just gone.
I liked Teresa. I didn’t see her often, but her warmth was always at the forefront of who she was. We were locked in an unending game of Words with Friends – her wordplay was top notch.
I wanted to support my brother and his beloved. We feel so hopeless in the face of death. Offering up comfort, by way of food and hugs. What could I do, to take away the awful? Nothing seemed enough. There is a hole that exists after death. How can any amount of food or hugs fill it?
I was put in charge of the memorial video.
A mighty responsibility.
I was charged with adequately capturing Teresa’s life and spirit, in 5 minutes and 8 seconds.
An impossible task.
As Teresa’s mighty smile beamed out of my laptop, I wept. I cried for her daughter and her sons. I cried for her husband. I cried for her grandchildren. And for all of her friends.
I cried for myself, as I imagined the unimaginable.
Reality creeping in....
The sun was shining this morning. A true spring day, in the final days of winter.
Black is the colour of funerals and so, despite my intense dislike for the colour, I dug through my options and got ready to pay my respects.
I embraced my brother. I embraced Tarshi - a woman who has become a sister to me. I tried to take away some of their hurt. A hug can only achieve so much.
The ceremony was beautiful. Teresa’s loved ones, though obviously grieving, invited those who attended to celebrate, rather than commiserate. To find joy in the life lived, rather than sadness in the life lost. This family, who travelled from New Zealand, to make Australia their home, combined the tradition of a Maori heritage, with the life they had built for themselves here, culminating in a farewell fit for the queen.
And Teresa was a queen to those who loved her – the Queen of their Hearts.
As we released 58 balloons into the universe – one for every year of her life – our hearts lifted. The sadness floating skyward, replaced by a sense of togetherness. The sun warmed us and many noted that the sunshine was Teresa’s doing. Her spirit burning bright.
The wake was a time for reflection. And food. So much food. The comfort of carbs and companionship. Songs were sung and as the sweet harmonies of traditional Maori voices filled the air. I felt blessed to have been included.
Death is rarely welcomed. Especially when we see it coming. Do I want to depart this earth unexpectedly, or do I want a notice of intent? Teresa knew what was coming and was surrounded by love in her final days. That sounds nice....
Life is a glorious gift, but nothing lasts forever.
This thought brings me to tears....
I have a vision....
I want to live to be 103. My daughter will be 73. My son 67. Their kids will bake us cakes and serve them to us, while we laze about in the sunshine.
I want to see my kids grow old and welcome in another generation of loveliness.
I don’t want to miss a moment of what this life has to offer.
Teresa may not have gotten to see her kids grow old, but she was loved. And happy.
I think that maybe, that’s enough.
Tonight, I will raise a glass to Teresa. I will think about my nonna. I will smile.
And I will push reality back, dreaming of my unending future....