If someone had told me it was possible to leave a funeral feeling happy I don't think I'd have believed them. But experiencing is believing. Today I attended the funeral of my friend Ann. I met Ann over two years ago when I first started T'ai chi. Ann was brilliant at T'ai chi. She'd been attending classes for only 18 months and was a natural. She was 20 years my senior and two inches smaller than my own 5 ft 2". She was warm, fun and always laughing. She gave lovely hugs when you walked into the room (not very british but very lovely). Ann had lived with both breast cancer from which she'd recovered and had lung cancer under control when we met. She'd been married aged 17 and had 3 grown-up sons, lots of grand-children and now great-grandchildren. She was very youthful in attitude and adored her family. She used to bring me pictures of her grand-daughter Sophie who looked like a young Elizabeth Taylor. Eight months after meeting Ann I needed surgery and a biopsy and I couldn't make class for 3 weeks. She was so warm and welcoming when I returned - she knew how it felt to await biopsy results. My results were negative and Ann was so pleased for me. In June of last year at Ann's annual check-up she was not so lucky. Cancer had spread to her liver and she had to have a long course of treatment. Every couple of months I would send her a card; just to let her know I cared. In the last card I sent at the begining of March I put my e-mail address in case she was up to dropping me a few lines. I recieved an e-mail the next day from her husband Jack telling me she'd loved the card and was in the hospice for the next week having some respite care. I communicated with Jack via e-mail over the next few weeks and he told me how things had gone with the specialist - not very good and that things were looking bad. A week gone Sunday I recieved an e-mail from Jack letting me know Ann was in the hospice for the last time, her liver had closed down. 24 hours later when I opened my e-mail box there was the e-mail I didn't want to read. Ann had passed away at 2 a.m on Monday 20th April - Jack had been with her.
As I walked into the church this morning a lady called Margaret who was Ann's closest friend at T'ai chi walked towards me and gave me a big hug (Margaret is a bundle of love.) The service was short and depicted who Ann was; a warm person who loved people. I stood outside the church for 10 minutes with 6 of my t'ai chi fellow students and we laughed and talked about how full of mischief Ann could be. I feel grateful to have known her.
On returning home I noticed a white envelope on my door-mat with the address of the medical centre where I had my own tests just over 4 weeks ago. I was told I wouldn't hear anything unless I needed further treatment. The letter said that everything appeared normal but that I needed to be tested again in 12 months time because of my history. It was signed by my Doctor who was also the Doctor of Ann.
Ann is now free and I feel the same way too. We meet some people for a reason, some people for a season and know others for a lifetime. Ann fullfilled the first two for me and I know we'll meet again some sunny day.