November 27   In Loving Memory

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Today I drove up to Karrakata for the stonelaying consecration of a dear friend. In Judaism, we bury our dead as soon as is possible but we don’t lay the headstone for a year. Karin was my mum’s closest friend but I knew her very well too and considered her a dear friend too. As I drove up, I couldn’t believe it’s really been a whole year that she’s been gone and I mulled over the idea of someone leaving a hole in the world. She’s gone and the world will never be the same without her and we miss her. But I am so very glad I got to know her and that she was here at all.

I didn’t get to go to her funeral because I was in the US. But I’ve had occasion in the past year to be in her space – in the community of people she left behind. I stood there today as we gathered around her grave to say prayers and I looked around at the people who had amassed. Most people are lucky to have family come and some friends. There were a lot of people there today and looking around, I was struck by how varied they were – younger and older, Jewish and not Jewish, professional and personal friends. In this past year I’ve been to a few occasions were her friends gathered and I’ve been introduced to many of them. She was the sort of person who was always busy but always available and there when you needed her. In exchanging notes on how we each knew her, we’ve discovered just how many people she was so close to. It’s been such a pleasure to meet all these people – so varied and interesting and so gentle and compassionate. I can see why she was such good friends with them, and we have all been brought together to share our loss. I recognised many today and was able to embrace a few and share a moment of missing her with them. But more than that, I think meeting all these people and getting to know them, reflects so much about who she was. And as I stood there, I thought about how we are the community that she brought together around her. We stood as the people left behind.

The Rabbi gave a really lovely speech – it’s not usual to have a eulogy at a consecration. Usually he might say a few words after the prayers and before he reads out the inscription on the headstone. But Karin was not someone you could go without saying at least something. And I think what he said was so truly appropriate for the moment and for her. He said “what a full and worthwhile life this was” which kinda started my tears and then he said, “no words can fully describe the impact she had in her work, in the community and in her personal life.” And he talked of all the people she had touched and cared about and fought for. It was a nice speech and even he had a cry at the end. He said that Karin, in Hebrew, translates to rays of light and that as we had all been touched by her, we should remember her and take her inspiration and make the light brighter. He said it more poetically – he’s the Rabbi so he said it better, that’s his job.

There is so much about the way Karin lived her life and the way she carried herself in this world to learn from. And I will always carry her as an example as I go forward. She was brilliant, fearless, right, capable of anything, loving, a listener, a leader, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. And if she was in your corner, you knew everything would be all right. She was the ultimate Super Woman, all the way to the end. And she was taken from us far too soon.

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