The call came exactly at 11:00.
Tessa has passed away.
She died just short of making Canada Day. It would have been her first as a Canadian. Her citizenship was granted just a few months ago, and due her disability and her illness the judge came right to her apartment and held a small ceremony there. She was given all sorts of Canadian gifts from her friends and celebrated the day. She fell seriously ill on the eve of the Canadian election, the first she would be able to vote in, and she had the ambulance guys stop in the lobby and wheel over so she could vote. Everyone applauded her determination to participate, to exercise her citizenship. It was an act that was truly in the spirit of Tessa.
Tomorrow is 'Gay Pride' and the city will be celebrating. last year Tessa rode her scooter with the contingent from Vita. She loaded her scooter up with water and cards and carried peoples things safely tucked in her baskets. She'd never been in a parade before and there were over a million turned out to be there at her first. She loved that moment. Vita, staff and members, embraced her participation and she felt incredibly welcomed by the group. We have loads of pictures of her draped in rainbows, but the rainbows that were most important were the ones that were in her eyes that day.
Over the last few weeks, while we were away in British Columbia, we spoke with her only briefly. She asked us to call but only every other day or so. She was weak and tired. Sometimes she'd say 'hello' and then seconds later 'goodbye' ... she was tired. Her voice was slightly slurred and it took effort for her to speak. We wanted to visit her but she said, 'You remember what I look like, I remember what you look like, please don't come. And please don't be mad at me for asking you to remember me, not visit me, right now.' We resisted the impulse to simply go - she was a woman who wanted her voice heard, fought for her voice to be heard. We listened.
When the call came, a weary, teary, voice gave us the news.
Memories sprang to mind. Too many, too personal to share here. In fact, right now, this is about as much as I can bear to write. I'm weary of loss. There are too many feelings about too many things for this little heart of mine.
I need a tea.
I need a cry.
Then, as is necessary, I need to fold up memories - carefully so as not to crease - and move on.