I went to a funeral yesterday. The remembrance of a really, truly, lovely woman who, at 61, died far too early. As Remembrance Day was being observed in places around the globe, we remembered Rose.
My friend Jo and I went to see Rose in the hospice last Saturday, in the morning. The cancer had spread to her brain... but she knew us, she smiled when we walked in, she laughed at our lame jokes, and she held our hands when we left. And she died...with her family surrounding her... just six hours later.
I have been deeply saddened by this death. Rose and I didn't call each other on the phone or go and have coffee together, but we occasionally facebooked...as you do! My interactions with her happened mostly at family occasions, as I'm lucky enough to be included in this large clan's celebrations...and sadnesses. This I consider a huge privilege and an extraordinary gift.
Through these occasions, and a few weekends away at a wonderful place called Green Cape, and the times before she got ill when she'd come along to our book club which she helped form during a bush walk not far outside Canberra, I came to know Rose.
When I was thinking about her in the days after her death I wondered how I would describe her. And the word, among many that came to mind was this...gentle. Rose was gentle. There aren't many people in the world I know that can claim that title. When you went somewhere and found that Rose was there too, you thought "oooh good, Rose is here". She was a delight to be around. Quietly and unexpectedly wicked, calm, caring...just plain nice. And I have enormous affection and respect for nice.
There's no point is there, in ranting or railing against this senseless loss of a lovely life. To a disease that continues to take people of all ages. To ask why. Because there is no answer. All we can do is accept...once the fighting's done. That's what Rose did with incredible grace. And donate to find a cure. And live our own best lives...she did that too.