Walking with Tess ‘on this journey called life’

Not many people understand it when you start wondering if you should become a nun.

I’ve only encountered two people in my life with whom I shared this serious experience, who really understood it. One was my long-departed, always missed and very dear friend Ros, about whose untimely death I wrote in ‘In Paradisum,’ the other, Tess Ross.

I’ve never met Tess.

Tess’s blog, ‘Life with Tess’, is what drew us together. It was not long before I discovered she had spent two years preparing to become a nun but had left, married, had a family and latterly grandchildren.

Much later I discovered that her mother – Lebanese – had not believed in educating girls and that Tess’s self-imposed education happened later in life.

This summer – in our northern hemisphere it was summer – I read with increasing enthusiasm dispatches from a road trip Tess and her husband took across the outback of  Australia, her home nation, to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). Many photographs and keen observations, a few small troubles and some fabulous views later, I was hooked.

I sent Tess a link to JK Rowling’s graduation address at Harvard – for some reason which now escapes me. She was going to check it out when she got back because the signal out in the wild blue sandy yonder, in their mobile home, was far from reliable. And it’s a long speech.

I was thinking about her today. Thinking how she felt comfortable, like a part of my life that was not everyday but there – a comfort when needed, a sensible viewpoint when things were a little peaky. Like a friend. Wondering if she’d liked the speech.

And so I popped into her blog site, hoping for news of her absence.

You have surely guessed by now that Tess has died. And I feel as if a ‘real’ friend has died. And you know, I think I have lost a real friend.

I want to say I’m surprised that I feel this way. I want to find it a revelation that we could be friends without ever having met, across continents and oceans and time zones and cultures. But I’m not. In some ways I find it a vindication of what we bloggers are doing.

If Tess helped me with my life, then I’m sure she helped others, just by writing about hers. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that worth the blogging?

I’m sad, but I’m glad we knew each other – however we knew each other – for a while.

I’m glad she and Geoff had such a wonderful journey, that she made it home to be with her family when she became ill and died.

What more can I say.

RIP Tess. I’ll miss your Life.

The picture heading the post is lifted from Tess’s blog – I am sure she wouldn’t mind – it’s the Serbian Church at Coober Pedy taken during her big road trip this year. One of many fascinating insights she gave into places I have never been and may never go

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13 Responses to Walking with Tess ‘on this journey called life’

  1. EllaDee says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend… I checked out her blog, I would have liked Tess and her blog too. She certainly was good to her words “I enjoy life and wish to keep learning until the day I die. Life is never easy and I think that living, loving and sharing your life with others is good for your well-being so this is what I have decided to do”.
    And yes, you have lost a real friend… as I found out when my friend Christine of https://dadirridreaming.wordpress.com/ died suddenly early this year. We had many shared interests, as well as blogging we also emailed and were planning to meet in person but never quite got there before she died. She inspired me (and many others) and still does. Often I think of her and about how she shapes the choices I make.
    As was commented when Christine died, and the same for Tess it was fortunate there was some communication in regard to their deaths on their blogs. Otherwise we might not know if they simply dropped out of the blogosphere and not feel confident to email to enquire. It’s something I’ve yet to address as far as my own last wishes go…


    • Hi Ella and thank you. I have just visited your friend Christine’s blog and been moved to tears – again. Oh dear, but she sounds like a wonderful, wonderful person. I was going to say I wish I had followed her while she was alive, but isn’t it amazing that her legacy in terms of her blog can live on and still inspire? I homed in immediately on her post about St Ives and Hepworth – her photos so much better than any I ever took there! I suspect her positive vibrations are around us, helping to soften the harsh angles of this world. Thanks, again.


      • EllaDee says:

        It was mentioned Christine’s husband Stuart and her children were going to create a book from the dadirridreaming blog and make it available to all her friends, which would be marvellous 🙂


  2. Audrey Chin says:

    This is sad isn’t it Mary. Isn’t it odd and awesome how the ether has created links. Getting a post isn’t so different from having a dear neighbour drop in is’t it?
    I haven’t been blogging much myself but certainly have been pleased when yours come in the mail.
    It’s sad, the loss of your friend Tess. But, we don’t live in just this one time-space continuum do we? Surely, you who wanted to be a nun can hold on to that not only as a comfort but a truth?


    • Hello Audrey and good to hear from you. I have popped by yours a few times over the last few months in the absence of post notifications just to check – and am glad to see you’re working on fulfilling your writing dreams. I must buy your book, I love the title and don’t know why I haven’t got around to it yet – I will!
      Sometimes blogging seems so selfish – and other people certainly seem to think it is – and sometimes it seems you’re talking to yourself when no-one is commenting – but then I meet people who say they have liked a post and I never knew they were even reading it. But the big plus is meeting people, getting to know people, seeing the world through eyes you would never have put on otherwise, like yours. Priceless. So, I shall imagine you popping in for a cuppa now and again!
      And yes, I’m sure Tess is out there somewhere, smiling her comfortable smile and wishing she could write a note to us all.


  3. charliebritten says:

    I am sorry for your very real loss. The truth is that when we’re online we are more frank and reveal more about ourselves than we do when we’re talking face-to-face, with the result that bonds and friendships do develop. Have you contacted husband Geoff? I’m sure he would like to hear from you.


    • Hi Charlie and thank you. I hadn’t thought about contacting Geoff and have no contact details but after I read this I tried emailing him on Tess’s email address which may reach him – the fact that the family was able to put a message up suggests they may have access to her various accounts. I was surprised by how much it affected me, you’re right – we do reveal ourselves more online I suspect. I hope you’re beginning to surface? m


  4. mud4fun says:

    Sorry for your loss. I can fully appreciate how you feel.

    I have made many friends through my own blog and most of them are in far flung corners of the globe so we haven’t met in real life but we still refer to each other as friends. Indeed as stated by Charlie above, many of my internet friends know alot more about me than my own family. I have one blog follower and now close friend that lives in the US that communicates regularly by email and we follow each others lives as though we had known each other for years in real life.

    The online friendships that develop through blogging can often lead to real world meetings too. Another one of my blog followers came to visit my wife and I earlier this summer, he came over from portugal with his family. Despite never having met them in real life before and them being complete strangers we welcomed them into our house, everybody got on perfectly and we chatted for hours non stop even though their grasp of English was not perfect and our Portugese was non existant. Their children got on with ours so well that they now correspond with each other via letters as pen pals and are learning Portugese while doing so 🙂 We have made wonderful family friends for life simply from a chance comment made on a blog through our common love of old Land Rovers. I would be as upset if anything happened to them as I would be for anybody I knew.




    • That’s a lovely story amid all the online horror stories. It’s my first experience of losing an online friend and I had never even considered how it would feel – it feels awful. I think doubly so since we had genuinely talked about visiting. I even looked at costs. But, the lesson I take form it is to value follower-friends even more than I already do. So, thank you, again, for reading and commenting, Ian. Mary


  5. My sincerest sympathies on your loss. This, though painful, is one of the most beautiful gifts technology has given to us. That we can befriend someone thousands of miles away, without ever meeting them face-to-face and without ever having had a cup of coffee or tea with them is a wondrous thing. That we can sometimes know people more deeply through the virtual world than those we see in our daily lives is both consoling and tragic.


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