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