10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
I’m looking at a photo of you as a little boy, Josh. You must have been about two years old. You’re looking straight at the camera, your eyes are sparkling and you’re smiling as if you’ll never stop. Here, one of Zoë. Younger than Joshua, just learning to walk and smiling in triumph at someone beyond the camera. Your mother? Your father? I don’t know. But you’re wearing the same smile that Joshua wore. You have the same sparkling eyes. Yet another photo. This time of baby Joshua surrounded by Hazel and Robert. You all look relaxed and happy and Hazel is smiling gently at her son. The same beautiful smile that both her children wear.
So many moments, captured in a split second. Timeless. In the same way as a camera captures a moment in time and preserves it forever, so do memories. And, as with photos, everyone records different memories. Most of my memories of Hazel are those of her with her children, you, Josh and Zoë. I remember one time we were all down at Sorrento and we were giving you a bath. I remember her laughing at the bubble ‘Santa’ beards that you made. I remember our walks across the cliffs at Sorrento and the ease with which she accomplished them, although she must often have been in pain. I remember one Christmas, her voice encouraging Zoë to blow out her candles. You were only young then, three or four, I think. I remember her gentle patience as she encouraged baby Joshua to try a new food, Christmas pudding, and the jokes she made when he refused it. Your mother possessed a wonderful calm about her and was one of the most gentle and patient people I knew. I never once heard her yell at either of you.
If anyone ever asks me what I remember most about Hazel, I’ll tell them about her beautiful smile. And her laugh. Even as I write this I can see her and I can hear her laughter. It was not always easy for your mother to smile, but she managed it. She had a strength and courage that carried her through her illness and enabled her to fight it as hard as she could. And she did fight it, for many years. That smile will stay within my memories, and in mv heart forever.
But most of all, I’ll tell them about Hazel’s incredible love for her children. I know that you, her most precious gifts, will always remember and feel it too. And although she is no longer here with you in body, she will always be with you in spirit. The love she had for you both will live on, forever surrounding and protecting you. You, Joshua and Zoë, will carry it within you.
For Robert, Joshua and Zoë
Do not cry for me, child so dear
The pain that I felt is no more.
I cannot hear the voice of death
Instead, an angels’ choir.
Do not weep for me, child of mine,
Just look to the sunrise and see
The beautiful shades that colour the clouds
I painted them, child, it was me,
I live without fear now, beautiful one,
My pain and tears are no more.
So long Death watched, but now I’m free
To walk along Heaven’s shore.
Do not cry for me, child of my soul,
I have not gone away.
I’m with you when you laugh and cry
And when you sleep and play.
For I am now the stars and moon,
The wind and rain and sun.
I am the brightest star at night
I protect you, my precious one,
I am the waves that crash on shore
The cry of a child at birth.
I am the glowing light of dawn
And the gentle song of the earth
I live and exist in everything
All beauty old and new.
Just look within yourself, you’ll find
That I am in you too.
So do not mourn, my darling one,
I am not gone, you see.
For I belong to you always
And you belong to me.
— Amy Smith 22/9/98
Amy was Hazel’s and my niece.