i've had some very sad news today. a friend of mine, raewyn good, has passed away. the news is a shock to everyone, as we weren't aware that she was ill at all.
i knew raewyn from the labour party. i can't even remember when i first met her or how we got to know each other. i haven't even known her for that long - maybe about 4 years. and i didn't see her very often either, only 3 or 4 times a year at the most. but she has been a dear, dear friend to me. a strong supporter, a woman with a heart of gold who gave me much aroha. it's funny how you can just connect with some people, and it doesn't matter how long you've been apart, that connection starts up immediately where it left off.
i stayed with raewyn for a couple of nights this year in april, when the labour party annual congress was on. she insisted i take her car to the meeting, while she took the bus herself later in the day. even though she had difficulty walking and the bus stop wasn't so close to her home. that was the kind of person she was.
her work for the labour party and for various other organisations was tireless. she gave her time, her considerable skills and her emotional strength. she was a mentor to many. she was so busy that she would rarely be at home, not even in the weekends. raewyn had a connection with many ethnic communities. she was strongly connected with the samoan community, as well as others and was always attuned to cultural differences and sensibilities.
and she knew how to fight for a cause. she was one of those people who had no fear, nor was she ever worried about sucking up. she would tell it like it is, without worrying about personal consequences. and yet, she would also manage conflict and was often playing a peace-keeping and mediation role. she never sought personal glory but worked tirelessly in the background, helping to keep the machinery running smoothly and always working for the greater good.
i remember the last time i talked to raewyn, in august. i was extremely upset, devastated to be exact and quite a mess. i woke her up at 7.30am on a sunday morning (she never was an early riser), and after her initial grumpiness, she talked me through my troubles and guided me with her wisdom. she gave me the strength at a crucial moment to do the right thing, when it would have been so much easier to walk away.
i've found it extremely difficult to deal with this news and with her absence. part of it is the suddenness of it all, which means that i never had the chance to say goodbye, never had the opportunity to tell her just how much she meant to me. part of it is the grief of losing someone precious. part of it is because she was gone before i even had a chance to repay her many kindnesses. so it has been a pretty tearful day, as i expect it will be tomorrow and for a few more days yet.
rest in peace raewyn. you'll be be sorely missed.