The Sense We Make

Laura Denaire Harris, oncology nurse, cancer warrior

Dedicated to the memory of Laura Denaire Harris
19th May 1975 ~ 31 October 2018

We travel a road copper-edged in dropped leaf.
Under crooked branches a filigree of gold and shade falls upon us.
A burst of starlings, as though blown from the boughs: silhouettes swooping through blue, in a bloom of sunlight.
We cross a shining river on a sturdy bridge, each arch has a shadow-shimmer on the water below.
Pass a thatched cottage where a rose shakes in the bite of the breeze.
The air has no warmth beyond the sun’s reach.

We walk through the town to find the right church; pass paramedics kneeling by a man who is prone on the street in a sleeping bag. There are people at a cashpoint queuing, subdued. Passersby viewing with concern. A busker without a coat, his face pinched pink. Shops open, some lit for Christmas. In a gilded doorway, a couple ask directions from a lady who points as she speaks.

We find the church, the hearse - this is just part of life, the big picture of everyday life, this gloss black transport, this crumbled red brick - we remind ourselves. A lady with a pen waits patiently for names to be spelt; each letter stumbles out, however normal we know this to be.
I never saw a wicker coffin before - the prettiness of it, unexpected.
Blindsided by something cute: a detail.

Hush in the congregation save for the pipings of young children.
Murmurs. Tissues pulled from pockets. The church organ plays.
To shoulder a casket is an honourable thing; a piercing bravery, a bond between worlds.
They carry her in that pretty wicker, her family, her friends.
Place her at the head of us, to be celebrated.

People drawing strength from need stand to give tribute.
We see a life - a grand adventure, devotion, mischief, achievements - it is what has passed and will be missed and to be grateful for. How proud she was of her family, of her friends, of her calling to be an oncology nurse: her uniform was her going out dress, today.
(Collectively we are not going to win any choir prizes; it is sweet that we try. There’s a warmth in that.)
Hands press into neighbouring hands, by thoughtful request. Literally, a nice touch.
Each speaker given applause for what they share, and for the sharing itself.
We look after each other, today.
Hands in hands. Arms open: comfort in proximity.
Comfort in the petting of dogs, in memories of kindness and fun. Hot release of weeping, and slow fond tears.
This beautiful mess of grief that can only be made with love - for which we can and cannot be sad - this connection is the joy of sorrow.

Night brought with it the image of a half moon. Leaves blew, colours unseen.
This wonderment of mess!
These details!
Moments, fragments - they become our whole stories: yes, a life is made of moments, yes: it is how we bring our attention to them that makes the composition work.
The sense we make.

Laura Denaire marries Paul Harris, celebrating life


Unknown said…
Very beautiful, it was written with love...
I'm sorry for your loss. So young.
Lisa Southard said…
Thank you, and yes, with love.
What a beautiful tribute. The persistent of everyday normalcy during our times of grief are both disconcerting and reassuring. Part of the cycle of life, yes, but that doesn't make it any easier to take, especially for someone so young. I'm so sorry for your loss.
We do make sense of the wonderful mess of life together. That's how we know we've found the right people.
Lisa Southard said…
Thank you x The support that everyone has brought to this has been immense xx

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