Past tense be damned

The world lost a dear, kind, bright soul this weekend and is the lesser for it. Those of us lucky enough to have known her are infinitely “more” for the experience. A little brighter, a little wiser.

I wasn’t going to write about Tersea’s passing. I’ve written about her before in August when she was diagnosed and again in January when she stopped working to spend her last days with her family. Tersea was a coworker who became a friend. An unlikely friend, as she lived thousands of miles away in South Africa. But a friend nonetheless. One I talked to more often than many of my friends who live just a few miles away.

I did not want to write of her passing because I’ve written of death too much these past few years. First my mother, then my father—and of course my friend Audrey who named this blog without knowing it. Despite feeling that the passing of a loved one is not something new, I cannot wrap my head around it each time. On Thursday, I could have written that Tersea “lives thousands of miles away.” (True confession: I did type that at first. And had to correct it to past tense.) Now I must write that she “lived.” Here one day and gone the next. That is something I don’t believe our human brains are wired to understand. Because if we did, we’d spend hours on maudlin goodbyes each morning, lest our loved ones become past tense that day.

I could not help but look back over our email communications. She sending me Ram Dass mantras and my reply: “Just a friendly reminder, as we head into August–are you saying your mantras? Because we’re going to rock the house:). All will be well.”

I am torn, today, between wanting to adopt puppies and plant flowers, and wanting to say to hell with the healthful habits—they don’t matter anyway—and down a Big Mac. I think I am equal parts loving acceptance of it all and raging mad at the pieces I can’t understand.

I will not get maudlin here. Instead, I will hold fast to the knowledge that Tersea would love my day today. Homemade pancakes for my youngest, a walk with a good friend and my faithful furry companion, a good book here in the room I do not use enough while the sun warms me. Foregoing the natural mascara I recently bought (read: not waterproof, but clean living and cancer aren’t supposed to go together) because I know I will cry at random times today and there is no need to look like a raccoon in addition to the red, splotchy face I know I will sport. I hope I smile more than I cry, thinking loving thoughts of all she brought to my life—and what I brought to hers.

Just a few hours before my father died, I read to him quietly from “The Journey with the Master” by Eva Bell Werber. Tersea was not sure what she believed spiritually, but I think from her current vantage point, she may appreciate the story.

The Man Who Climbed to God

The man was told that on the mountaintop he would find God, that there he would meet Him face to face. So the man arose early, before the light of day, and started on his journey. When the first rays of the sun came through the forest trees, it gave him joy and he climbed steadily for many hours.

As he climbed, he became thirsty and sought a brook where he could quench his thirst, and while resting beside it, he fell asleep. As he slept, God came down from the mountaintop, and His form was that of a young man, strong of stature, with eyes of piercing beauty. God spoke. His voice rang out as a clear, sweet bell. These are the words He spoke:

You started the journey of the Soul, away from the crowded cities with their glamor and deceit, away from the rush of life as it is lived by man in his ignorance. You came alone to the Mountain Trail as day dawned in your consciousness of what life really means. You entered on the way of the lonely ones, thinking if you kept to the path, up and over the crags of old beliefs and old desires, that at last you would find Me, God. But I wait not there in My high place of glory, while you make the weary journey alone. I saw the desire burning in your Heart, as even now the sun burns your flesh, and I hastened down to meet you, that we might make the journey back, from Sense to Soul. The way, after all, will not be a lonely one, for on every step of the way you shall have Celestial Companionship. Awake! Rise up! Let us be on our way with joy.

You may have noted that as I introduced this excerpt, I wrote that Tersea “may appreciate the story.” Past tense be damned. I know she is hovering near. I just can’t seem to grasp her with my senses.

I have one more guardian angel watching over me—and it is now quite a crew. I will not spend today fretting. Because in my own wise words–we’re going to rock the house. All will be well. Even if I don’t yet fully understand it.


58 Comments Add yours

  1. Aunt Beulah says:

    Thoughtful, very human musings in this post, Kay; and I identify. With every death of someone I care about, the upheaval of feelings is as new and uneven as the first time. But the difference now is that I know acceptance will eventually nudge its way into my thoughts and the slow process of recovering equanimity will begin. I’ve been sitting near my barely blooming fall asters considering your words for some time. I appreciate and respond to you and your ability to tackle difficult topics.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. I try not to be maudlin and depressing but I find I have to write about what life is throwing my way. As you do at times. And I appreciate your honesty equally as much. Thanks, as always, for your kind and thoughtful commentary.

  2. I can’t find the words… maybe it was meant for me to read this now – you know I follow but I just couldn’t read it then for some reason. Too close to my dad, personal life was completely amuck – this dating thing sucks!
    The loss of one we love can be so indescribable at times, yet you’ve put it here.
    Past tense be damned!

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re not alone. That’s such a wonderful thing to be reminded of, isn’t it? Even when things suck. No, ESPECIALLY when things suck.

  3. fritzdenis says:

    Your blog is aptly named. I appreciate your willingness to share your humor, frustration, hopes and grief. You’re helping your readers find connection, a sense that they are not alone in their struggles. Peace.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words. Helps us all to know we’re not alone, right? Especially in a world where we have less face to face and more technology interactions.

  4. Dale says:

    This was a fabulous post (as usual), Kristine. I love how similar we are in dealing with our grief – though your writing comes out so much better!
    We are so much the greater for having had the chance to experience such friendship. Like you, I have way too many guardian angels, thank you very much. To think of the number of mine who are 51 and younger just leaves me…shaking my head.
    Cry, laugh, howl, smile, reminisce, remember, embrace, enjoy, grieve, celebrate…I could go on, but shall spare you as I’m sure you know what I mean! Hugs and love from me to you! xo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, friend. Grief is not something I every hoped to get “good” at, but I feel the more it happens, the more I realize the cycle. As if a witness to it, not just going through it. I know you’ll get this. Thank you for the kind words–hugs right back at you!

      1. Dale says:

        No one wants to get good at it, for sure…but I think facing it square on allows you to appreciate life more and move forward with more intent (I have rewritten this 3 times as I can’t get out what I want to say! But I know you understand my gibberish)

      2. candidkay says:

        Of course I do!

  5. Beautiful post. Remembering requires so much more courage than grief. Hugs to you.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’ve never thought of it like that. What a wonderful way to put it.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear that Tersea has died, I remember reading your post and thinking I would have liked her. I hope her spirit is soaring somewhere. I spoke at a women’s group tonight about Jane, a woman who inspired me many years ago, and although she died in 2013 it felt like her spirit was alive tonight because I shared her story with others. We are richer for knowing people like Tersea and Jane.

    1. candidkay says:

      I love that you are keeping her spirit alive by sharing her inspiration still. And yes, we are the richer. I have been finding comfort in memories and the many happy conversations Tersea and i shared . . . thanks for your kind words. Keep on keepin’ on . . .

  7. I am with you there, friend. We lost our sweet grandma this last week… Monday… right before Valentine’s Day. And it takes on a whole other level of writing for me when I choose to write about grief because it brings everything to the surface and it all seems very real. At times I would rather tuck it back down and process on a different day and in a different way with the quietness of my own thoughts but then I remember that many grievee and we take comfort from grieving together and processing loss with those who love us and walk with us. Thank you for sharing your story with us. it’s good to walk together. Love and hugs as you face a new day!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words and for the sharing. I do think we are all stronger each time we share experiences and learn you’re not alone. Sending that love and hugs right back at you as you grieve and hoping this weekend is a welcome respite for you.

  8. Ninasusan says:

    Beautiful blog of love! So sorry for your loss!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Felt the love when I wrote it–and now from all of you.

  9. I’m sorry for your loss Kristine – loss in the physical sense, but of course you can still feel her around you and the gap will begin to fill with all the wonderful memories of her.

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes–I am left with such wonderful memories of laughter and conversations I always looked forward to. I do feel her around in a very good way:).

  10. Kristine, So sorry about your friend, Tersea. The whole thing is so mysterious. There are never the right words. But I’m sure she’s in a better place.

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes–if we could only figure out how it all works, right? It would comfort us for sure. Thank you for the kind words.

  11. Kay i am really sorry to hear this. How are you holding up?

    1. candidkay says:

      Alright. Thanks for asking. I am focused on celebrating her life.

  12. reocochran says:

    I am very saddened to hear of the sum of your losses, Kristine. You must sometimes allow grief to overcome you, but I sense the joys, here too. Sending you hugs for losing your dear friend, Tersea. She had a sense of humor and saying mantras works! 🙂 hugs xo

    1. candidkay says:

      I love that Ram Dass is who she turned to–only seems right she went with a revolutionary hippie:).

  13. George says:

    I have been wondering about Theresa since you wrote about her last. Sometimes there are no words, Kristine. Only love and memories.
    God rest her soul and prayers to all those who love her. (Present tense).
    Honor her spirit and smile as you think of her..:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you both for the kind words and the present tense:). Love and memories are a great comfort.

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. Praying you have peace and comfort in this time!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much. I do believe prayers help immensely.

  15. Here’s hoping you find solace and warmth through all these times marked by sadness, times when you cry and times when you laugh. What a beautiful remembrance of this special person. You chose an appropriate piece to dedicate to her. South Africa is framed by the bluest of skies and the deepest human experiences of reaching down into the earth’s riches. And so the human journey continues for you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much, Kathy. I don’t know how to say it, because I still grieve with each loss–but I also am better with each loss at appreciating the good and happy times. I hope to get to South Africa someday and will surely think fondly of Tersea when I do.

  16. A beautiful post Kristine. Losing those we love is never easy. Remembering your precious time with Tersea will always be with you 💚

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes. Many wonderful conversations to remember:).

  17. I’m sorry for your loss, Kay. Thank you for trusting us with your grief and Tersea’s memory.

    1. candidkay says:

      You all are such a beautiful group. How could I not?

  18. Lovely words. Thank you for sharing. I am sorry for your loss. I agree no past tense. She is and always will be with you. Our spirits are always alive. Peace and Blessings

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind thoughts, Craig. Truly appreciated.

  19. srbottch says:

    Nice. Surely, she appreciates it.

    1. candidkay says:

      I certainly hope so.

  20. dinnerbysusan says:

    Feeling such sorrow for your loss. What a lovely tribute to a friend.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Celebrating time I got to share with her.

  21. What a beautiful tribute, from beginning to…new beginning. I’m sorry to hear that this means the distance between you two will be far more than the meager 1000’s of miles that couldn’t separate you in the past. But as you say so well, past tense be damned.

    1. candidkay says:

      And truly, in an odd way, I feel we’ll be more connected. Thanks, Gabe, for being so kind.

  22. Su Leslie says:

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much.

  23. Amy says:

    Oh, my dear friend…. I am grieved to hear of Tersea’s passing. You’ve written a beautiful post to her memory. Sending you a gentle hug. I’m so sorry…. xxxooo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Amy. I am just glad she is no longer in pain. She was the kind of person you really did not want to see in pain. I always just wished sunshine and butterflies for her.

  24. Cindy Frank says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. And your loss sounds like a loss for all of us who never had the opportunity to know your friend. Take care.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. I am comforted today by the fact that I am taking more joy in having known her and then mourning her passing. I think she would like that.

  25. I like your headline for at least three reasons. Take care.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Rachel. Being good to myself today.

  26. My condolences Kristine. Always at these times is the realisation of what really does have importance in our lives…the love we have for others. Be that love…and cry…let your friend…and you, touch what that loves means by the love that you created between you. And that love will always hold your hand, caress your brow, and hug you, from all those who are still near, because they are still present in your heart, that is what love truly is…that beautiful contact that is always there. It is the only thing in this world that survives everything, always a part of who you are. Up there or down here, it is our contact through the ether’s that will always be a part of who we are. They are all pouring their love to you, seeing your heart laid bare each time you face these times, knowing that it will give you strength as you stand in your love to them as well. A big hug from below, and a little love from me too ❤

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Mark. I am feeling the comfort of her. I know she is still here, just not “here.” I appreciate the kind words . . .

  27. Sunny007 says:

    So sorry for such a loss, Krisse!

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too. But, I am celebrating her continuing onto the next leg of her journey and being without pain. I truly was lucky to know her.

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