• Charli

Wellness Matters 06.08.2021

Dear Angela

Dear Angela,

There are so many conversations we didn’t have because life just got in the way, and I am sorry about that because now you have died, and I won’t get that chance again. I hope this letter conveys how much you meant to me and how I will take what I have learned from you into the next phase of my life.

I was so sad to hear of your passing yesterday when I spoke with my cousin, the younger of your two daughters. She is, as you were, stoic in the face of adversity, accepting the natural order of life and death, yet remaining firmly grounded and able to express her vulnerability.

I recall how in awe I was when you told me you had managed a school for ‘wayward boys’, as they were called in the 1970s. Ironically, I took a very similar path teaching young people who had experienced adversity through birth, circumstance, trauma, and associated additional support needs, and in spite of being few and far between, I vividly recall all our conversations, because they had such an impact on me.

Several years ago when I was undertaking my healing journey, I came upon William Donius: Thought Revolution, How to Unlock Your Inner Genius. One of the tasks was to write with my non-dominant left hand, who I was avoiding, and when your name appeared, I didn’t hesitate, I picked up the phone, and you answered as if you had been expecting me. Of course you had, because we shared an intuitive streak.

We talked for over an hour and you helped me make sense of the role I was in and the challenges I would likely face. You just knew, and you were right. It was one of the toughest jobs I have ever undertaken and I had to leave because I was exhausted.

Oh, how I would love to churn over the hopelessness of local authorities' education systems with you, now that I have stepped away and no longer feel afraid to speak up and speak out. We would cuss and laugh and unite in our understanding of the catastrophic failings that continue to pervade across 'education'.

We were inexorably connected, you and I, as aunt and niece, mothers, teachers, and sisters. When you came to stay in late December 2017, we found ourselves alone for a moment. You moved to touch the back of an old oak carver with lath back, and rickety right arm, which had belonged to my father, your brother.

You turned and smiled, with a rare tear in your eye, and said: "We’ve always been different, you and I darling, from the rest of the family. I understand your battles because they have been mine too."

At that moment our connection was firmly cemented and maybe I didn’t invest enough time nurturing our relationship, but you were right up there among the few people I truly respect and trust.

Darling Angela, Angel, sweet gentle soul. You have left us very suddenly but your wings will fly into the arms of your beautiful big brother. You will continue to be a guiding light to me and I will honour your memory by selfishly capturing a fraction of your goodness, kindness and unconditional love.

Thank you and rest easy.

Your loving niece


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