Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind.
We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
People come into our lives for lots of reasons, some say for a lifetime, a season or a reason.
My friendship with Liz lasted a lifetime. Her sudden passing this weekend, has left all who knew and loved her, heartbroken and desperately seeking an answer to why. For me, for the rest of my life she has taken a special place in my heart, thoughts and soul.
I find myself a day after her beautiful and simple funeral, utterly bereft. I spent the day in quiet solitude, thinking of her laugh, her smile and her last words to me on Saturday. I chose to turn to writing, and hopefully gain some peace from that.
I’ve known Liz for years, her daughter and my children having gone to primary school together, but I only really got to know her well about six years ago, when I started piano lessons, and this quickly became a deep friendship that grew and grew. A friendship of mutual respect and admiration, of shared passions and of sheer enjoyment in each other’s company.
Liz was a wonderful musician, an exquisite pianist and I loved to watch her play. Her beautiful long fingers danced across the keys, her eyes closed gently and her body swayed as she played. The beautiful music singing not only from the piano but from her very being, her lovely spirit.
And then it was my turn, and the spell was broken.
“It’s the C, Gill.” “Oh the other C.” “You weren’t playing the C.” “Are you sure about that, Liz.” “Fairly sure, Gill.”
“That’s lovely, Gill, but it’s not what the composer wrote.” “Mine’s Better, Liz.” “Undoubtedly, but as he went to so much trouble to write it his way, we should probably respect that and try our best to follow his score.” We would both then dissolve into laughter and tears of laughter until many minutes had passed before we could resume again.
But my favourites times with Liz, were the coffees, occasional meals together, or the glasses of wine in her favourite room, looking out over the stars and city lights, surrounded by her childhood piano and her much loved books. And we would sit late into the night discussing music, books, family, life and love.
I was with Liz two weeks ago, when her last student was finishing up, and she said to me, “Ah Gill, look at the beautiful gift I got.” And she showed me a beautiful bunch of roses. “And Gill, we must have a coffee from my new machine, it’s second hand but it’s brilliant. It makes lovely coffee and we must share one.” Last week, when we met again, it was, “Ah Gill, look at my lovely new sandals, they are so comfortable.” And her face lit up again, like a child on Christmas morning.
That was my friend Liz, such joy in the simple pleasures of life. A gentle honesty, generosity of spirit, such calm dignity, living life so passionately, and sending lovely picture messages which always seemed to come at just the right time.
I stood again in her favourite room, Monday evening, looking down on her coffin, grief stricken and in shock. Her daughter leaned into me, took my hand and shared with me, her mother’s feelings for me. I will hug them to me for rest of my life. But I wondered too, did she know how special she was to me. Did I tell her enough. We all think we have so much time.
Yseult said to me Monday, “Gill, Mum was a donor and she saved six lives, isn’t that wonderful. And it is, and back in February, at one of the darkest times in my life, her gentle coaxing of me, back to piano and something to focus on helped to save mine.
I have much to be grateful for, all these people in the world, and Liz and I connected. In time too, all my lovely memories of her will bring me great joy. And I will think of her as I look at the stars, a shining light that once blazed here on earth is now twinkling down on me from the heavens.