Home > Life, Love, Parenthood, Religion > A note about Clare

A note about Clare

By now, children across Queensland have been safely reinstalled at school for the last term of the year and parents have uttered something that loosely resembles a prayer of thanks.

But at one school on Brisbane’s northside, the dynamic this morning was different. Parents found out that one of their number had passed away on Friday morning, leaving behind a husband of fifteen years (and one week) and four young sons: the eldest being in year 4, and the youngest around 2 years old. Clare died at 1 a.m. on Friday from complications following a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. She was diagnosed last year and had been in and out of hospital since, but everyone had always expected that she’d be home again soon.

Today, people were too shocked to say much of anything. (I’ve had since Friday to ‘process’ the news). But what I do hope is that when people find their words, that they share them with the family. No-one really knows the right thing to say, or when, or how to say it; but I suspect that the greater tragedy would be to say nothing at all.

Clare was in the year above me, both at primary school and high school. Even though we didn’t know each other during those years as such, we met again when our children started at the very same primary school together. All the way through school, Clare had a quick and generous smile for everyone and it was that same smile (and irresistible, throaty laugh) that greeted me almost two decades later. I suspect that Clare touched a lot of people without knowing, without even trying.

It’s not unexpected that people will say nice things about the recently departed, however, even if you tried, you couldn’t find a single negative thing to say about Clare. She really was that good. When she was in a conversation with you, she was totally in that moment with you. She gave herself over to her family, entirely. She gave herself over to her faith. And she never complained about anything, or anybody.

While she was in hospital, she didn’t let on how much pain she was in; nor how it felt when her own baby had trouble recognising her with tubes and without hair. No. Clare, in her usual cheerful manner, would send me a message asking how my new chickens were going. Clare was never dying: she was living every moment.

Clare was a truly magnificent person. I hope people find as many ways as they can to tell Greg and the boys that.

R.I.P. Clare.

P.S. If people would like to share their Clare stories or offer words of support – feel free to click on the comments box and I’ll ensure the messages get across when the family’s ready to receive them (or do it on Clare’s FB page if it’s ok with Admin). Sometimes, it’s easier to write it than to say it. And sometimes, it’s easier to read it, than hear it.

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Categories: Life, Love, Parenthood, Religion
  1. Sarah Stuhmcke
    October 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    That was lovely Theresa.

    I had never spoken to Clare but remember her from primary and high school as we went to St D’s church every Sunday.

    I wish peace for Greg and the boys and the extended family, but also to our school community as we are blessed to have such a wonderful place for our children.

  2. October 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks Sarah. It’s a wonderful place, filled with wonderful people. I hope Greg and family will find comfort in this community.

  3. Ann-Marie Tosuni
    October 4, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Theresa that is so beautiful and heartfelt, I didn’t know Clare really other than I knew who she was and often saw her at church, my mum used to say what an attractive young girl she was, and often commented on her 4 boys. It was only the other day my parents were talking to Greg and said to me what a lovely young man he is and the boys and what characters they were. I think Clare is not only an inspiration to many people, but for someone to have such an impact without even knowing them properly says a lot. I feel like I have known her for years, I WISH I had the pleasure of knowing her on a more personal level, for I feel that my own life would have been enriched just by knowing her. God Bless Greg and the boys and the rest of her family and grant them strength at this time.

  4. Liz Di Mauro
    October 4, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks Theresa for finding the words that I couldn’t. Our deepest sympathy goes to Greg and the boys. We cant begin to imagine their pain and grief but yet we feel so strongly for them. I cried when I heard even though I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting Clare. I wish I had because she sounds like a caring, compassionate lady and a wonderful wife and Mum. I hope Clare’s family and friends find comfort in the fact that they are in the thoughts and prayers of so many. Rest in Peace Clare. May the Angels guide you gently to heaven and God keep you safe in his hands for eternity. Liz and Family

  5. Cathy Thomsen
    October 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I did not know Clare, but I followed her story on the Facebook page dedicated to her.

    Theresa, you could not have put it more perfectly: “Clare was never dying: she was living every moment.”

    I cannot even remotely fathom Clare’s experience, but what can only be described as her darkest hours, her strength and resilience, love for her family, devotion to her faith, and ability to live life for the moment shone through. Clare was truly a selfless, giving and unique person.

    Our heartfelt sympathies go to her husband Greg, beloved boys, family and friends.

    R.I.P Clare

  6. Samantha Walters
    October 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Clare was the type of person where each conversation you had with her made you walk away feeling like you had known her for years. She was grounded and earthy. She knew her priorities and lived them everyday. She will always be a shining light, guiding me as a mother, and as a wife. I look forward to watching her boys grow up, developing upon the foundations that she helped establish and nurture. I’m sure she will be proud of the men they become, always watching from above. I feel truly blessed to have had the time I have had with Clare. Xxx

  7. Lisa Lofgren
    October 4, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Clare, I first met you last year as we stood waving to our sons who were on a bus heading off on their first school excursion. As the bus departed you nervously smiled and said, ” Couldn’t they just travel to Chermside or somewhere close like that?” You then prayed with Luke and Timothy for their safe return. I was struck by that moment and by that prayer and remember thinking how little I prayed and how I have struggled with my faith over the years. When Clare became ill and a prayer site was established for her, I found myself praying again and I truly believed our prayers would be enough to help her pull through. I am still in shock at Clare’s passing but her unwavering faith and enduring strength in the face of adversity, were truly inspiring. I will continue to pray for your loved ones now and I know you will be watching over them. R.I.P. Clare xxxxx

  8. Melissa
    October 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Your story of Clare makes me wish I had known her. I can’t imagine the loss her family is feeling but my thoughts & prayers are with them & I’d like them to know that thoughts of Clare continue to touch strangers, even after she has passed.
    I wish I had known her, & wish Clare & her family peace.

  9. Sharon Kane
    October 8, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I met Clare while we were both in hospital being treated for our illnesses. I think it was in January when we met. I remember meeting Clare and Greg for the first time at the lifts on C floor at Brisbane Private Hospital very well. I had just said goodbye to my mum who had been visiting and Clare spotted my medallion on my necklace. Her words were “You have a Miraculous medal as well” and she showed me the one around her neck. We introduced ourselves and had a quick chat about our respective illness and the fact we had the same doctor and then went separate ways. Over the next few days I spotted Clare on our daily exercise walks around the corridor and we started walking together and chatting as we went. I never told her but I used to watch for her as I enjoyed her company so much that I loved to walk with her whenever she and I physically could. Over the next few months our paths kept crossing. I was in for 2 – 3 1/2 weeks then home for 1 week and it just seemed to coincide with Clare’s visits. During one of these times we also met Helen (Urda). The three of us used to walk and chat or we would chat in a room. Until I met Clare I kept fairly well to myself. I only found out about my illness November 18, 2009 and was having my first chemo session December 1. I believe I was still in shock about my diagnosis and Clare helped to pull me out of this. She helped me to see that there were people in worse positions than I was. My illness was treatable and curable. She spoke about people she had met on the ward who were heading home with no hope of a cure. She spoke of her own situation so positively and calmly. Between Clare and Helen I came out of my shock and began to believe there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that it was worth going through all of the pain and treatments that we were going through. She was doing it for her boys and Greg. She wanted to see them grow up and have families of their own. She always spoke so lovingly about her boys and family. She would listen to our problems while dealing with big decisions and problems of her own. Clare left the hospital for the last time and I missed saying goodbye to her and giving her my email address. My friends had signed me up to facebook to keep in contact and while looking around I found the site for our Haematologists company and “liked” it. Looking around the site I saw a picture and a name that I hoped was the correct Clare (I never knew her surname). I sent off a friend request with a note and I had found the right Clare. I also found Helen again on the same site. I will never regret making this contact as it has made it possible for me to continue to know Clare and to help support her through the rest of her battle with her illness. I was so saddened when I learnt of Clare’s passing. We were so sure she was going to come through it and that the three of us were going to catch-up for coffee. Sadly it will only be Helen and I for coffee in future but we both know that Clare will be right there with us enjoying the conversation. My life was so blessed by knowing Clare and I plan to remember her every year by carrying at least one gold balloon for her in Light the Night as well as many other ways. She and the family are never far from my thoughts every day and night. Rest in Peace Clare in the arms of gods angels.

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