I was very pleased to hear from Dirk yesterday that they had arrived safely in London (despite nearly missing their plane from Inverness), and from Anna today that they are back home in Cape Town safe and sound. Anna says that the loving vibe we had in Inverness and Nethy Bridge has followed them home, and I know they had many friends and family eagerly awaiting them. I don’t doubt that it’s been incredibly difficult for Dirk to arrive home to the house he created and shared with his beloved Tessa, and reminders of her everywhere, but I am so pleased that he has so much love and support surrounding him. I only wish I was still with him.
Clive, Tristan, Rhys and I arrived back home yesterday evening, and while having the comfort of home is of course soothing, and the boys are thrilled to be back, it is every bit as upsetting for me as I feared. We’ve been in such an amazing space in Scotland; we all loved Tessa, and toasted her each night at dinner. She was on all of our minds constantly. Here, hardly anyone knew her, and even those who did mostly haven’t experienced the loss of a loved one themselves and thus don’t know how to relate to me, so simply avoid the topic. I find myself unable to make conversational chit-chat; feeling irritable and angry, after all these days of soft, loving warmth, despite Clive’s incredible love and support still being here with me. It has felt as if everyone around me now is getting on with their lives as usual, whereas for me the world is inescapably and irreparably different; I don’t fit into my own skin anymore. I couldn’t stop thinking about when my mom shaved most of her hair off, many years ago, and despite thoroughly enjoying my new haircut from last weekend (after so many years of loving my long hair), impulsively decided to follow suit.
I managed to get my flight to Cape Town for the memorials booked today – I will arrive on the morning of Wednesday 22nd June (Tessa’s birthday), and depart on the evening of Sunday 26th June. I am eagerly looking forward to spending time with my family and friends. I will unfortunately not be able to take my own little family with me, as we have applied for British Citizenship for our two boys, and the UK Citizenship office will hold their South African passports for the next 6 – 8 months until the application is processed. Clive will remain here to look after the boys, and I will miss them all a huge amount. It is going to be such a relief to be back in a space where everyone is full of love and sorrow; processing, mourning, crying and laughing together. I will also take Tessa’s ashes back with me.
I am going to pull together a cremation ceremony document, with photographs and everyone’s speeches. It really came together perfectly, despite some degree of stress and a mad rush to get everything together and get there on time (well, okay, a little late). In the meantime you can see a photograph of her oak coffin, and the wreath Anna made, below. The photograph is from Ian Thompson, an old friend of the Versfeld family.
So, there is much more to follow still, in time. For now, I am going to leave you with a quote a friend of Elin’s sent her, which she forwarded to me today.
To laugh, is to risk being a fool.
To weep, is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another, is to risk involvement.
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd, is to risk their loss.
To live, is to risk dying.
To hope, is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love or live.
Risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
Only a person who risks is free.
– Leo Buscalia