In Memoriam

It was inevitable that – working now at an organisation where my mother worked, even though it was many years ago – I would occasionally stumble across her name. It still made me catch my breath when I came across this message from a previous Director on our old website, while I am in the process of extracting data for our new website:


“It is with sorrow that I inform you, on behalf of AFRA, of the passing away of Tessa Cousins. She died in a climbing accident in Scotland on Sunday. Her partner, Dirk, is in hospital after having undergone an operation to repair a badly broken leg.

Tessa worked with AFRA from the early ‘90s until 1998, and thereafter remained one of our most supportive members.

On a personal note, Tessa was a respected colleague and ally of mine during the late ‘80s, when we both worked in remote areas of KwaZulu-Natal. She soon became a good — and dear — friend, and remained so until the late ‘90s, after I had relocated to the Western Cape. Then, as even good friends sometimes do, we drifted apart.

My heartfelt condolences go out to her partner, her children, and the rest of her family and friends.

Her death, at first, was shattering to those of us who loved her. But, rather than mourning her passing, we should be celebrating her life. For life she had, in rich abundance, an abundance that she generously shared with all she knew. I can think of few moments spent in her company that were not filled to overflowing with fun, and humour, and enthusiasm, and empathy, and care, and courage, and love. It is those qualities that Tessa so unselfishly shared with us — and those that we will recapture, when we think of her.

If there is an afterlife, it is now a brighter, more courageous, more compassionate place.

You are invited to join us in celebrating Tessa’s life at a memorial service at AFRA’s offices at 123 Jabu Ndlovu Street at 13.00 on Wednesday, June 8”

This week, as my colleagues and I planned an exciting upcoming event to launch our new logo, website, and vision, I listened as others talked about how many people had fitted into the same room in which we sat, for my mother’s memorial. I am deeply grateful to feel her presence all around and within me.

11 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. Very nice tribute. Sometimes you come across something and it makes your heart skip a beat. In my family room I have a framed letter from the company where my mom worked, remembering her and honoring the work she did. Today is my mom’s birthday. Wishing you the best.

    1. Ah, that’s so lovely! I still find birthdays a bit tough – finding that balance between a sense of loss at what COULD have been if she was still alive, and gratitude for the birthdays she did celebrate. Sending you a hug x

      1. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been focused on what could have been lately. Not a good place to be but I keep thinking about how different so many parts of life would be if my mom were still here. Yesterday wasn’t easy – I cried for her loss and then lit a candle in memory. Always in my heart.

        1. Even knowing it isn’t helpful, it’s hard to stop playing out those “what if” and “if only” scenarios sometimes. I’m not surprised the day wasn’t easy. Sending you a huge, long, tight hug and comfort x

  2. That your mother touched so many in such a positive way, Laurel, must make you so proud, even as miss her so and continue to experience the ache of grief – and pass her beautiful inspiring presence on to others, even those who never knew her in the flesh. Sending hugs and love, Diane ❤

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