A year ago, I lost a special friend to cancer. It sounds like a cliche but she truly was the person who lit up a room with a smile. And I miss her.
At her funeral, the focus was on celebrating the special person she was. Her three children and two step-children each spoke and through their testimonies, the positive impact she made while here was evident. Linda was first and foremost a dedicated and loving Mum and partner.
Our friendship was formed at the school gate then on the sidelines of various rugby fields in and around Dunedin. We’d laugh as our wee boys bumbled their way through the motions.
One Saturday, the boys were playing at the small township of Outram against a team of rural kids. It was so cold. Linda had started treatment for aplastic anemia (the cancer came later, double whammy). I knew she was tired but she refused to stay in the car. Together we huddled on the sideline as it started sleeting. Various kids came off sobbing, their hands red their knees scraped. “Trouble is,” she observed wryly, “we didn’t give them the right names. The other side’s got Angus and Robbie and Bill and Gavin and what have we got? Harrison and Brady and Laken and Ryder!” I laughed so hard.
I wanted to share that story at Linda’s funeral. Wish I’d been brave enough but I didn’t trust my legs would hold me up.
The other thing I wanted to share that surreal day was what Linda taught me. And that is contentment. Linda’s husband and soulmate doted on her, still does. He wanted to buy her a new car. But Linda liked her old station wagon – nothing wrong with it. He was keen for them to build a new house. But Linda liked where they lived. She could walk their youngest son to school and really, there was nothing wrong with it so why would she want another?
She just wasn’t into stuff. Not that type of stuff any way. She had what she needed and material stuff wasn’t on her radar.
So a year passes and there’s still a Linda-sized hole in our lives that will never be filled. I look for her on the sideline and in the club-rooms. I see her in her youngest son’s eyes. And I thank her for the lesson of contentment she taught me.
But I still wish she was here.