Last week, Helena, a dear friend to my two sisters, died. She was mother to two young children, wife, sister, highly respected photographer.
|Helena photographing my sister's wedding in Ohope Beach 14 years ago|
Over the last two years she saw only close friends and family as she had Sezary, a rare blood cancer affecting the skin. It caused her so much pain and disfiguration the unfairness was impossible to comprehend. I remember her as a tiny, beautiful art student wearing vintage dresses, big beads and leather sandals. Whomever she spoke to felt like the most important person in the room - she would fix them with her intense blue gaze and iridescent smile. She was a bloody good laugh. She tried always to be good and kind. Why did she have to suffer?
A close friend of ours - one of the fittest and most vital of all the fathers we know - found out last month he has cancer. He has started the onslaught of treatment with all that means; the rollercoaster of drugs that strip almost everything from you. His three children are friends with our children and the past decade has been a slideshow with his family and others; skiing, laughing, drinking, eating, being with our kids and being ourselves.
How do you make sense of this? How do you stop railing against the unfairness? The Art Of Fielding which I finished last night, says: "The true fielder lets the path of the ball become his own path, thereby comprehending the ball and dissipating the self..."
It's hard to be a gentle noticer. Someone who says: "The sky is so blue" and allows that to be sustaining. I'm more: "When I walk the length of the beach at home, you have to touch the cliff to show you've reached the end." So this weekend, I tried to just notice.
1. Cy, 8, said: "You need to put more photos of Teddy on your blog, he's very important." Here you go, Cy.
2. The kangaroo paws always nudge you as you walk down the front steps...
3. Tallulah,11, has a secret language with friends and they call each by store names. Here Tallulah (Ikea) is doing some Royal Bouncing.
Helena had a website for her photography, explaining it as a journey: "As a kid I used to sit at Dad's feet as we hurtled through the Hawkes Bay countryside at night in the Holden Kingswood, and he would tell me when there was a car approaching and I would push the 'dip' button by his feet and thus adjust the car's lights. As I clicked through from high beam to low beam I would imagine the cars coming and feel safe and happy helping out and visualising our journeys in the dark."
Maybe the answer is: she is still traveling. And further down the road we will see her sky-blue eyes once again.
I am so sorry for your loss. I am very familiar with the horrible impact Cancer has on us.... it really seems to touch the lives of everyone.ReplyDelete
It is important to take in the little things. Something I have been trying to do lately and this post is a great reminder of...
So sad. As much as we know that we have to take time to smell the flowers, we do need reminding.ReplyDelete
Awful,just awful. I think love and loss are the experiences that have most impact on our lives. I constantly remind myself of all the things I'm grateful for and I know not to take anything for granted. It doesn't stop the shock and sadness of hearing bad news though.I hope your friend makes a good recovery.ReplyDelete
Thank you. It's a wonderfully written poignant post and a beautiful tribute to your friend.ReplyDelete
Really sweet, Jody. Thank you for sharing this lovely post and making me stop and notice the kangaroo paws in our lives.ReplyDelete
So sorry for your loss...how awful for all her friends and family. She sounds like an amazing person - someone who made the world a better place. Life seems so unfair at times but thank you for making me take a step back from a stressful day and be grateful for my health and my family xxReplyDelete
So sorry friend. Thinking of you.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry to hear this. I don't think anybody has a clear answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people. I am a believer in Christ and that sometimes makes it even more confusing. I don't think anybody has a clear answer for this. I think only God knows what is going on....ReplyDelete
My husband and I lost a friend several years ago. She was a wife and a mother of two very young girls. She died in a freak accident (her car was struck by a deer). We still don't understand... Her girls were so young they would not even remember her...
You and your sisters are in my thoughts today.
Oh Jody, I'm so sorry. It's so difficult to make sense of it when our friends and loved ones are suffering. I think Cy is right: Teddy is very important, and all those sweet moments. Sending you lots of good thoughts.ReplyDelete
xo Mary Jo
A wonderful and touching tribute to your friend. I'm so sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
Very sorry for your loss...how utterly cruel life can be:(ReplyDelete
A beautiful tribute, Jody. Such sad news: life does seem very unfair.ReplyDelete
So sorry to hear your sad news - that was a beautiful post and a lovely tribute to your dear friendReplyDelete
Very sorry to hear about your friend. When tragic things like that happen, it really makes you take stock of your life and determine what's important. Artificial stuff doesn't matter anymore.ReplyDelete
I'm so very sorry. It is amazing how the loss of others can cause the entire world to suddenly come into sharp focus. Focusing on fleeting moments or, as you said, just noticing - morphs into a way of life instead and all the other distractions of the world seem to fade away. While the loss is so hard, I think this process of resetting is beneficial. For those left behind, that is. And for those who move on . . . well, I believe that is it's own reward.ReplyDelete
Jody, I am so sorry to hear of Helena's death. And the cancer of the father of your kids friends. These kinds of things do bring life into a much different focus. They force us to "pay attention."ReplyDelete
"The rain falls on the just and the unjust," and problems come to everyone, too. I wish you peace in his upsetting time.
Blessings an Bear hugs!
Such a beautifully written tribute and one that I'm sure would have brought tears to Helena's eyes xReplyDelete
Awesome pictures... Love itReplyDelete
Lovely post and you're right, when something like this happens it does make you reassess your life and take more joy in the small things. It reminds you that life is so precarious.ReplyDelete
how incredibly sad. a life seemingly cut short. a life overcome with suffering. there are no words to make it better... to explain it's meaning... it's purpose.ReplyDelete
whether we see it coming or not, everything is shaken into perspective. my thoughts are with you, my friend. i'm always here if you need to talk (email ;)). xoxo
I do not think you really can make sense of this. This week is the anniversary of my friend Mary's death. She died leaving behind a 22 year old and a 7 year old. Even now it does not make sense but it does make me kick myself when i am down or feeling sorry for myself. Sorry for your lossReplyDelete
Sad. Sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry to hear about your two friends. Is your friend undergoing treatment for his cancer? I've been left reeling with shock over the past 5 years. I had 3 friends who dropped dead suddenly and they were in their 20s and 30s. Another is suffering from bone cancer. All of them have very young children.ReplyDelete
So sorry to hear about your two friends. May God be with them both. Love Di ♥ReplyDelete
Such a beautiful tribute to your friend, I'm so sorry for your loss. Cancer is such a mysterious disease that takes too many lives, young and old. My friend was just 22 when she passed away from a mole that went unnoticed and the cancer spread to her blood.ReplyDelete
Sometimes I feel like I take too many photos and don't really get to enjoy the moment as I'm living in it because I like to capture it so we can enjoy it later and so others can enjoy it with us. We took too different trips to the beach this summer and one the first trip I ended up taking around 600 photos! This time around I just enjoyed myself and only took about 75 photos!
I love the photos you posted, your daughter's drawing is beautiful. <3
Lots of love to your family and hers. And to that of your friend who just found out about his.
Life is bloody unfair, I learnt that a long time ago, poor soul, what a shame she didn't get to spend more time here.ReplyDelete
Dear Jody.. this is so sad and I am so sorry for you and your friends and family. Sometimes the saddest things seem to happen to the kindest people.. it's unexplainable. We've all been there at one time or another. I think these life experiences make us appreciate what we have.. you just never know.ReplyDelete
A beautiful tribute, your words were lovely.ReplyDelete
Sorry for your loss.
Thanks for a nice gentle reminder to notice and live in the now.
I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. Yes, it's unfair all right.ReplyDelete
It's sad, but it's also part of life, which is, let's face ot, intrinsicaly unfair.ReplyDelete
Funny you should mention Helena helping her Dad dipping the headlights. I can remember travelling between Airdrie and Glasgow (in Scotland)and helping my Dad dip his lights. I could even occasionally help him change gears.
She sounds absolutely lovely. I am so sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your close friend. I'm sure she would be so touched to know how highly you thought of her and how much you loved her. And I wish all the best for your friend with cancer and I hope he comes out of it on the other side.ReplyDelete
Death always puts things in to perspective. Tomorrow (it's late now), I will go and give all my boys (big and small) one extra hug and kiss and make sure I fully appreciate what I have.
This is so beautifully written, a tribute, and I feel you gave me a glimpse of your wonderful, talented and gorgeous friend. I'm so sorry fir your loss. The pain she suffered is heartbreaking. I have a close friend who is 3 years into a tough battle with a different blood cancer and every moment I get to spend with him is a special one. Your friend will be in my prayers.ReplyDelete
It's at times like this we all need to hear the best joke in the world:ReplyDelete
Last night I dreamt I ate 2 giant marshmallows. I woke up and both my pillows were gone.
There seem to be a huge number of young NZ mums and dads who die from cancer. I don't know why. Maybe the number isn't disproportionately large but just that NZers just know everyone because you are all such a wonderful little bunch.
Jody, that was a truly beautiful post. I'm not a teary person but am typing with tears in my eyes. It was that final paragraph of Helena's and your comment that she is still travelling that tied it all together perfectly. Oh wow, just beautiful and moving. And Inspiring. xoxReplyDelete
Oh, Jody, this is so sad....I am so sorry for your loss! You are doing a great job by writing this tribute!ReplyDelete
Have a good week!
Jody, How sad this is. You made a wonderful post about her. Nothing like these things to give us a wake-up call to all the small things that matter in life.ReplyDelete
Oh Jody, so sorry that you've been going through this. You've written about it beautifully and you're quite right, we should all look up and take more notice and be much more appreciative for what we have; what we have right now, not in the past or the future but right now.ReplyDelete
Sending best wishes to you, your family and friends x
how very sad...your words are a marvellous tribute....unfortunately the older we get the more we lose those we love, the phrase, at least I've got my health no longer a joke.....ReplyDelete
Sounds like Helena had - at least - a great childhood but what a cruel cross she had to bear. there is no rhyme or reason. All one can do is help where possible and treasure her memory.ReplyDelete
So sorry for your loss and the illness your friend is now battling. Hoping for health, peace and joy for your and yours.ReplyDelete
Am so sorry to read all of this...this is a glorious post about her. I think it's wonderful in life when we know that we've had the blessing of connecting with someone like this...it's real and it makes us realise how alive we are and how quickly it can go. She'll always be there, just inside your heart and memories now...the body may go, but love and memories can't ever be taken away!! xoxoxReplyDelete