In the past, I know comedians have had their turn at writing this piece and ideally, I have been told, this is a fun piece. For me and my family this time of year right now is, well, not fun, and I have momentarily lost my sense of humour. Six weeks before I wrote this, my 30-year-old, break-dancing, fashion designer, energetic, life-loving cousin Lily was diagnosed, completely out of the blue, with a rare form of cancer called mucinous adenocarcinoma. Within three weeks of her diagnosis we were organising her funeral.
This cousin of mine was more akin to a sister; we grew up together in Christchurch, both with lots of siblings in our immediate families, and our sister-mothers close, we spent our childhoods alongside each other. We both lived in Wellington when I was recording my album, Time is Not Much – in fact, she features with me in the hollering at the end of the song, ‘More than Fake’. I remember we sat there alone, with one microphone, the two of us layering our shrieks and hollers, creating this fake party, cracking up at ourselves capturing it all. When she moved to Auckland around five years ago I would see her often, and even more so in the weeks leading up to her passing.
This is when Lily gave me the plan to save the world.
You see, my family and I had this rare opportunity to spend time with Lily knowing and feeling that every moment was extremely precious. She allowed us all to be around her almost 24/7 in the hospital, and marae-styles back in Christchurch at her parents’ family home. She wanted us there, and we were there! She showed so much courage during this time, refusing to let anyone cry around her, stating she didn’t want a ‘pity party’. I feel immensely grateful to her. Incredibly, she gave to us in her moment of helplessness.
She gave us each other, and through that single act of giving, she gave us all so much love, comfort and time – to be with her and to be with each other. She spoke about gratitude for her life, for love and for us all. As I write this now I fully realise she was laying the foundation for the real, true plan on how anyone can save the world. So here it is, are you ready?
Sounds simple doesn’t it, and perhaps even a bit sermon/obituary/cliché-like, but I tell ya, I believe it to be true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that bad times don’t exist or that love will cure all. In fact, what I am saying is dark days are exactly what we have. Horrible, unfathomable, scary, unbelievably horrendous days do exist! But Lily taught me that even through the worst you can give, receive and multiply love. When I think back now over those past six weeks and all that has gone on, all I can think about and be grateful for, is love.
So, what is my plan to save the world, I hear you say? My plan is to save the world, with love.
Illustration by Toby Morris