Monday, December 19, 2016

On Losing Lilly

Life is not fair, or reasonable and much of it makes no sense. Saturday we lost Lilly, this bright, creative, Viking warrior artist. It is unimaginable, and unbearable. A perfect day on the bright, crisp winter ocean with her father, a dinner with family friends and Norse poetry, one minute painting her brother's Christmas picture, the next, gone. With no clear reasons yet why she was taken suddenly, today I will tell you about Lilly and her family while we wait; for answers, and for the daily things to happen that will fill the yawning chasm of time and space she used to fill so completely.

I have known Zella, my sister-friend since I was 17, Richard since I was 19 and Lilly and her wonderful brother Morgun always. From the colic to the giggles, to playing with slugs (hey they are creatures too) on Bowen Island to a fascination with the Aquarium and all things living, Lilly deeply lived with a connection to land and sea, and the peace and sustenance both could offer. To forage, she forged her own knives. To fish, she crafted her own lines. To live, she followed her own path. Not one always easy for a parent, the labels applied could include "train kid" when she spent two years traversing North America with her rescue puppy Vader; she lived many places where she was known to reclaim unused yards and turn them into gardens with shared bounty; a sailor living on her own boat and navigating the islands of the west coast, finding artists' communities to call home, collecting friends at every stage of her journey.

Lilly never understood "stuff" beyond having the basics you need to live. For her this included paints and sketch books, a mandolin, enough clothes to stay warm, and enough food to survive without waste. Never afraid of hard work she has wrestled mistletoe at nurseries, farmed on land and in the sea, milled grains to make bread, crafted traditional Easter loaves complete with tiny bread birds and has filled all our homes with stunning artwork. Most recently she was working with Richard, learning welding from this master, and sorting through the boxes of memories that make a home with her mother, shared laughter and meals, walks and puppies, and time to reconnect. A painter, sculptor, sewer, gardener, gatherer, jewelry maker, she was always collecting interesting pieces of nature - treasures from the sea, greens and mushrooms, beach glass, rocks, bones, wood - to make into something beautifully unexpected or delicious. 

With our kids we have spent nearly every New Year's Eve in Sechelt, which means every year we have had Nicholas's birthday here, and almost every birthday cake of his life Lilly has crafted. The unique stockings we, and quite a few other friends use each Christmas were created by her and as I sit quietly in the early dawn there are some on this mantel now. The art she has been creating since she was a small child is on every wall, and the decorations she put up this year to welcome the season surround us.

Any parent with children of a certain age (teenagers) knows the feeling of your child arriving home and leaving a trail of their stuff from door to destination, and the mild annoyance they have taken over your space so completely making it their own as you pick up this and that, tidying and perhaps, muttering about the "mess". To think that Lilly will never again come in the front door and leave this trail that so clearly states, "I am home and here to stay for as long as it's convenient for me" is unfathomable.

There is nobody who lived life more completely as their own, on their own terms and always without harm to others. There are many lessons in this for the rest of us if we choose to take them. Always respectful of individuals and animals, bending the rules that didn't clearly make sense and creating a life that made sense for her, this was our Lilly.

Take care Lilly, we know you are watching over us, probably knitting something with your namesake grandmother right now while you cook up your next adventure.

21 comments:

  1. Tahira, thank you for this. You have written magnificently about Lilly. I never met Lilly but through your beautiful words I feel like I did and can feel her enrich my own life too through your wonderful descriptions. May she rest in peace and may we all treasure all the more the family and friends that surround us. Ar dheis De go raibh a n-anam dilis (May her sweet soul be at God's right hand)

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  2. What an original Lilly is. No doubt she will continue to inspire all she touched along her journey.

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    1. Lilly's originality is that of a motley crew of marginal non-conformists who proclaim that the world can be far better than it is presently. They live that better world, even if no one else is paying attention.

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  3. You could not have summed up Lilly's life more beautifully! Thank you for that. We will all have a hole in our heart with her leaving us to soon. But you are right she is knitting and also gardening with her namesake now!

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  4. With a paining heart I offer you and all Lilly's loved ones deep sympathy and love. So sorry you all must endure the loss of this bright light in your lives. She sounds truly amazing and a glorious gift to you all. Her energy will absolutely live on, there is no doubt. It's like a hurricane...lasts only a short while, but never dies...just moves on into other things. It sounds like she left a very loving and supportive group of friends and family behind...you should all be very proud for the contribution you all made to her becoming and being the person she was...and will forever remain. Peace and blessings. xo

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  5. My sadness is overwhelming for you all. Having experienced second or third hand only the loss of a child, I know the devastation. Having experienced too often first hand the death of a friend or of family-friend (like sister-friend), I know the horror. And somehow the memories of what you wrote - the significant days that are upcoming make it all the harder -- they will always be as she will always be in your life and heart. I'm so sorry. So very very sorry. May her memory be only for a blessing .. and her life an inspiration. Sending love, comfort and blessings.

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  6. Wow, Tahira, what an incredible way you've shared Lilly with us. My heart and virtual hugs go out to you and her family. Words almost never do a person or our feelings justice, but I believe you've given your feelings--and her legacy--great justice with this post. I'm so sorry.

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  7. So beautifully written and remembered Tahira...

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  8. So sad and beautiful all at once. Lilly will no doubt live on in her own special way. So sorry to hear Tahira.

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  9. This hasn't really sunk in yet for me as we were not expecting her return til Spring. Lilly has spent many nights on my sofa with Noah and Vadder on Read, the halfway point to Maurelle from Heriot Bay, like so many of the really amazing resourceful youth that have stopped in to check the internet, wait for the tide, eat a meal or two, help us with firewood, hang out, discuss current events, learn about fermenting food and forage wild food with, Lilly stood out. She was one I never worried would not thrive, she had so much skill and determination, she picked things up quickly, she made beautiful art out of things she found. She designed her own knives. She loved her family, was very proud of them. She had her own sense of justice and was true to her word. I am so very glad for all the things she has taught me, for her boundless sense of adventure, for her courage and bravery. I will miss her dearly

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  10. i didnt even know her, she sounds like a beautiful person

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  11. Wow, so beautifully written.Lilly sounds like a beautiful person.

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  12. I knew Lilly only from giving her and Vader rides across the Island ( Quadra ) and yet her passing feels like an extraordinary loss. I'm grateful for the moments with her.

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  13. Lily and Vader worked with us farming scallops, she was positive, and fun. We were all saddened by the news, and gave a crew cheer to her with hot rum!! She will be missed.

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  14. By the way, it is Troy and Lisa, not sure why my daughters name came up!!

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  15. Thank you everyone, these comments mean so much to her parents and family - there is nothing more than knowing your child was loved.

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  16. I did not have the pleasure/honour of ever meeting Lilly. However, I have known Zella for almost 8 years, met Richard a few times and employed Morgun for a stint out here in Edmonton. Having 2 young daughters myself, can't imagine what the family is going through right now (brings me to tears every time it crosses my mind). Thank you for sharing this beautiful, heartfelt message that no doubt captures the very essence of Lilly. May she rest in peace and be forever in all the hearts of whom she touched so dearly.

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    1. Bryson thank you. I have shared this with them.

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  17. Tahira, so sorry for your loss. The insight you gave us into Lily, sounds like she was an amazing and unique young lady who will be dearly missed. My sincere condolences you and her family. - Naomi Tucker, CMP

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