Eulogy for Tanya
Tanya, with her usual magnanimity, would have herself wanted to say thank you for making this unexpected journey today. Some of you, like me I expect, have been talking to Tanya since she died and you know how sorry she is that she wasn't there to meet us at the station - that beautiful head standing tall above the crowd - welcoming us with cups of tea and home-made cakes into her world.
Before I go any further, I wish to thank those who have cooked and shopped, walked the dogs, answered the telephone, found spare rooms and have done everything else required to prepare for this: Tanya’s last and greatest adventure. That so many of you have stepped in to fulfil Tanya’s obligations and support those who loved her is testimony to her importance in all our lives. That testimony says more about her than I can. Please, let us applaud them.
Now Tanya waits at life’s final station and we are saying goodbye for that ultimate journey, one that we will take ourselves eventually. It is only right then that Tanya, who was forever curious, a natural leader, a life teacher and spiritual pathfinder, is going ahead of us for a reccy.
It is impossible for me to summarize Tanya’s life or wholly describe her importance to me as a sister but impossible was a word that Tanya rarely used. The best of Tanya was apparent in abundance. No carefully chosen words are needed. Tanya was wholly a good person. Her dedication to her ideals was exemplary, her integrity irreproachable, her kindness unlimited. If my words cannot do her justice, her own deeds can.
Tanya made all who knew her feel special, just to her. That wasn't a technique she learned to make herself popular but was as natural and artless as Tanya herself. Tanya gave her love with such generosity that you sometimes selfishly dared not share her with anyone else, but by sharing the gift of Tanya, she enriched lives all across the world. Because Tanya was a reliable and selfless provider of unconditional love, easy sociability, great cooking and interesting entertainment, a great loss is felt everywhere.
It is tempting to call the death of a young person a tragedy but Tanya had already lived several lifetimes when the bright flame of her life force was extinguished. It would only be a tragedy if the paths she illuminated to our hearts were now forgotten.
To say I wish some things could have been different in our life together is to reject the lessons Tanya taught me. Tanya had turned disadvantages into strengths and she used her life experiences to help others. Tanya had tremendous personal courage that time and time again triumphed over adversity. In her life she grew from novice to sage, from timid to courageous, from victim to victor.
We had many great adventures; many ridiculous escapades and we shared many, many laughs. I valued her counsel, her encouragement and above all her esteem.
Tanya was an unabashed atheist yet her life would gratify any God. Tanya had a spirituality as individual as herself. Sometime, in her teenage years I reckon, Tanya discovered a faith that empowered her. She found that she alone had the power to change the universe by being nothing but her self. Setbacks only reinforced her will to make the world better. Tanya had faith that good was better than evil, light was better than darkness, knowledge better than ignorance and she believed whatever she gave the world, she would get it back tenfold. But her goodness was not there to be taken advantage of. Rather than thinking that might made right, Tanya believed that RIGHT made MIGHT.
I know that Tanya’s faith was vindicated because Tanya died with a surplus of the best things of life around her. For Tanya happiness was having what really matters: love, recognition, power, self-esteem and so ultimately she attained the grace that we all want from this life. But to attain this, she gave it to others first.
In the last few days we have had to ask ourselves “what would Tanya have wanted?” This is easy to say as Tanya led us all by example. What Tanya would have wanted for us now is to mourn her - then celebrate her, but above all to always take whatever opportunity we can to make good from everything that happens.
With her death we realize that amongst us has lived a great spirit. Tanya has no fear of judgement in any afterworld but we who are left behind are deeply in her debt, a debt that can only be repaid by following her example. Tanya’s lesson is this: be truthful, be kind, live your life to the full, and celebrate all that you have now, for tomorrow it may be gone.
©Nat Bocking 2003