"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again."
-- Ecclesiastes 3
Many of you have honoured our beloved grundoon in many ways already. Some have offered words of praise, affection and love. Some prayed, many of you offered messages of support to myself and Tessie. Some have cooked meals, made generous financial gifts and paid personal visits. Some have shed tears with us, and those tears are a blessing to me. Others have shared stories and remembrances of Christine. Each of you knows who you are, what you have done, and I thank you from the bottom of a very full heart.
After Christine took her last breath, I kept the first of my promises to her.
I bathed and dressed her. I stood next to her and I sang all her names. Her birth name first, the names she was given by her parents. I honoured her parents for giving her to the world. Then I sang of her middle name, the one she adopted as a young woman from her uncle - this was a gift that he willingly shared with her, and they had a naming ceremony to grant it. I sang her online name, by which she was known to many hundreds of people in several communities, including this, her favourite. I sang my pet names for her, the names of love and admiration for the woman she became, the one I fell for many years ago. Finally I sang her spirit name, a name that honours her inner being, her connection with nature and spirit.
I called in the directions, the archetypes of Lover, Warrior, Magician, Queen. I called on the sacred masculine to give me strength and on the mother spirit, the feminine that she revered and modelled. Finally I called on the spirit of humanity, that binds all together in the human spirit and carries the torch that lights the world. She demonstrated and celebrated her humanity in so many ways; as a daughter, sister, mother, wife, not to mention a friend, colleague and citizen.
In this way I sang the story of who she was, and how she had affected the world and everyone she came into contact with. I promised her I would cut a staff for myself from the wounded apricot tree in the garden, the tree that should have died and yet lived.
I sang what I could of the song I wrote for her, until my voice cracked and I could sing no more. Tessie and I sat with her for a long time, just holding hands and being in our thoughts.
She had beaten all the odds, survived for four years beyond the median. Cancer had its hold on her and yet she fought it to give yet more to Tessie and myself. This staff will be to me a symbol of her battle, her warrior nature and her great human spirit. Then I let her go.
In this way I remember you, Christine Robbins Ottaway, grundoon, my Amber Goddess, my Only Love who was also Protective Sea Otter.
Tomorrow I will arrange for a cremation service. In accordance with her wishes, I will, in due course, scatter her remains in her family's summer home on Lake Matinenda in Ontario. This was a place of magic and memory for her and all her family. I hope it will be a Good Thing for Tess, though she needs little reminder of how much Christine was loved, admired, respected.
On 15th April, 2012 there will be a memorial service at Winter Creek Ranch, 18080 Road 70, California. You will be welcome to arrive before 1pm, when the service begins. It will be open to all, at the home of close family friends - the place we were married, and a place of wonderful and loving memory. There will be family and friends gathering to remember Christine and share loving support for one another.
Come if you can. Contact me for details. Bring stories, songs, prayers and love. Bring food to share afterward, but bring no flowers - there will be colour aplenty in the gardens. If you wish to honour her memory with gifts, I will pass on donations, or contact me for the organisations she wished to support.
Come, share your love for this great woman. I have other promises to keep, and I need your help to strengthen my hand.
If you are unable to come, bang a drum, raise a glass, sing a song. We'll know.