10 May 1948 - 14 September 1998
I sent this early in the morning of the day after Hazel had died. I had slept in the same room as the body, which had been laid out by the nurses, and garlanded with daphne. In repose, the body looked almost as though asleep, which gave me some comfort: to die is to be utterly alone, even in the arms of one's loved and loving husband. I now know that Hazel was fortunate to have died quickly and in relative peace.
Subject: Hazel: it is over.
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 07:18:10 +1100 (E )
Dear Friends of Hazel,
It is over. Hazel died in no pain at twenty to four yesterday afternoon (Monday, September 14, 1998). She was in my arms, in a room filled with the light of candles and the scent of daphne, surrounded by flowers. I called Pat and the children back from their piano lesson, and they arrived in time to kiss Hazel farewell.
I shall let you know when the funeral arrangements have been made, probably for next Monday. Hazel had decided where she wanted her ashes to be buried. She asked that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Salvation Army, or to CARE or to Community Aid Abroad, or their equivalents where you live.
For my part, I'd really appreciate your written anecdotes, memories, impressions, and reflections on Hazel, to be bound into a book for the children. Hazel lives on in each of our hearts and memories, but her image is now shattered into as many pieces as there are people who knew and loved her, each slightly different. Son and Zoë are so young -- in years to come they will really value your thoughts at this time, as will I, now. (Our home address: 6 Vincent Street, Balmain, NSW 2041, Australia, or email.)
For over four years, Hazel and I had faced the spectre of her early death. For the past three years, this had become more certain, as the cancer progressed, then halted for almost eighteen months, and then continued on its inexorable course. I know that her painful struggle and path to acceptance was made much more bearable by the love, support, and thoughts that you, our friends, felt and expressed. I read to her two loving letters that arrived only an hour or two before her death, yesterday afternoon, and she was able to help me decipher some names and words.
There are some who weren't able to say goodbye to her in person, or whose messages arrived after she had died. But she knew and felt the love from you all, and I too. Now I focus on the children: Hazel and I had had two sessions with a child counsellor with the aim of easing this time for the children, and I shall do all I can imagine and accomplish to help them grow to maturity. After all, Hazel lives on in them, too.
Farewell, Hazel. Peace, lovely lady!
In the meantime, please feel free to email me, Robert.
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Last Updated 5 March 1999