Kel’s Angels

Today is the anniversary of Kellie‘s death. All over the world, the people she impacted in life will be feeling a deeper ache today. 365 more days around the sun on this blue and green planet, in our little sector of the universe. For many of us she is our Supernova. A brief, brilliant miracle. A solar biker chick, burning trails in the galaxy.  Spinning on a dime and firing up the skies as she blazes past.

I think of lyrics from a song that has always helped my own mother-grief, Bright Star by the Indigo Girls. This song has always spoken to me and for me. Today I’m dedicating it to Kellie’s girl, Ash.  For me, it is the song from a daughter to a mother she has lost. I’m sure Ash has her own grief music closer to her generation!  I just wanted to share this one from my heart to hers.

Fare thee well my bright star
It was a brief brilliant miracle dive
That which I looked up to and I clung to for dear life
Had to burn itself up just to make itself alive

And I caught you then in your moment of glory
Your last dramatic scene against a night sky stage
With a moment so clear that it’s as if you’re still before me
My once in a lifetime star of an age

So fare thee well my bright star
Last night the tongues of fire circled me around
And this strange season of pain will come to pass
When the healing hands of autumn cool me down

-Indigo Girls ‘Bright Star’

Today I received an email from Kellie’s husband Mark.  He wrote to share the latest news of the Scholarship Fund they created in Kellie’s name. I love the idea of a legacy like that. Her passions, her generosity.  Here is what he wrote:

Hi All –
With today being the 19th of July, I thought it would be meaningful to celebrate our memory of Kellie today with an update on the scholarship.

Nicola was our first recipient who went on to achieve remarkable success in her final year with a GPA of 6.66, two publications, and several readings. Beyond this she was continuing to submit to larger journals. She shared how this would not have been possible without receiving the award. In short, the outcome for our 2016 recipient exceeded all expectations.

Luc, Ash, Ann, Charlotte and I attended the presentation event late last year at QUT where the 2017 recipient was announced. We have another very worthy recipient in James (picture attached). I am particularly pleased to understand James specialises in writing Sci-Fi. As part of his address, it was good and unexpected for Luc and Ash to hear Glen talk about Kellie’s passion and engagement in class.

As I think about Kellie’s legacy, the part that resonates (as I write this note) is how she never gave up exploring and sharing her passion for life with those around her.

Mark

The ‘Ann and Charlotte’ Mark speaks of are his new wife and new baby. The family is doing really well according to my sources, in case you were wondering like I did! Babies are magical joy bringers. Big love to the van Meurs. And big love to you Kel. Your angels are here doing their thing; your angel gift to those writers enables them to do theirs.

We miss you. X

Little Girl Lost

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the rainbow comes and goes,
and lovely is the rose,

the moon doth with delight
look round her when the heavens are bare,

waters on a starry night
are beautiful and fair;

the sunshine is a glorious birth;

but yet I know, where'er I go,

that there hath passed away a glory from the earth.

An old school friend of mine lost her mama this week.  Her mama was Clara, a lady whose life converged with my family’s history and made our story better for having her in it. She was a beautiful, gentle, loving person, a special friend to many; but to her children she was the beginning of love itself.  To not have her here with them now must be so hard to come to terms with.

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there is beauty even in the end

Losing your Ma is a journey I know well.  It’s the trip you never want to take, the inevitable traverse through times that test and trouble the very fabric of our identity. Because, who are we without our mothers? Can we walk through life without them? Can we possibly take the torch of their wisdom in our families and communities… are we even ready for that?

I remember how Mum’s death was a relief and also a shock. We’d been with her as she battled seven years of cancer. So it was a relief to know the pain was gone, the struggle ended. But I wasn’t prepared for the finality of death. The absolute ‘gone’ of death. No more smiling waves and see-ya-laters. No more one-more-times.

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The strongest feeling I had the day of my Mum’s death was a feeling of being little girl lost. I remember being about four, lost in the shopping mall. It was a terrifying feeling; an empty wide chasm of fear and abandonment opened up in my little heart.

I retraced the way we had come, hoping to find her back in time. She was nowhere. The tears obscured my vision, I sat down and howled. A nice lady took my hand and led me to the mall head office. I was placated with a lollipop and the loudspeaker called my Mum. When she found me there, my relief was complete.

Losing her to death reminded me of that feeling I’d had as a child. I didn’t know if I could do life without her. I didn’t know how I could carry all the weight of my love for her, now I couldn’t give it to her anymore.  I wished there was a Universal loud speaker system that could bring her back to me.

In some ways, there is. I see her in the beauty of life, even in the peonies that are slowly fading in the vase. I feel her when I am mothering like she did. I hear her words coming out of my own mouth and I see her expressions in my daughter’s beautiful face.  I didn’t know if I could do life without her, but I have. I didn’t think I could carry all that love, but I do. Sometimes, I give some of it back to myself.  I mother myself because she can’t do it anymore.

I still cry a lot about losing my mum. Things set me off. Like trimming our Christmas tree, or a song, or seeing a mother and her grown daughter meandering together through a mall.  Sometimes just talking with my siblings or hearing a laugh like hers can do it. Seeing my children do something my Mum will never see them do. Watching from afar as Clara’s family gracefully carried her through her final days. The triggers are everywhere. The sudden upsurges of grief never far from overwhelming me.

I will always miss her. I will always yearn for her to be here with me still. That’s the nature of love.  There’s no time limit on grief, it is just an ever present part of life without her.

This poem meant a lot to me during the early days of Mum’s absence.  I return to it, days like today, when we are remembering the beautiful woman that Mum’s friend Clara was. She will be so missed.

Daniella, Geoff and all of the Tabor/Ila clan, my heart is with your hearts. It is so hard to travel the days without your Mama. I know you will find strength in what remains behind. But I wish she hadn’t had to leave so soon. I imagine in heaven, our mamas will be together.  It’s nice to think of them together.

Love to you all from my family. Clara was one in a million. A truly beautiful soul.

we will grieve not, rather find
strength in what remains behind;
              
in the primal sympathy
which having been must ever be;
              
in the soothing thoughts that spring
out of human suffering;
              
in the faith that looks through death,
in years that bring the philosophic mind.

The poem is ‘Intimations of Immortality’ by William Wordsworth.

The flowers are my vase of peonies that I can’t bear to throw away; every day they seem more beautiful, even as they draw near to the end.