It is with the deepest sadness that we have to tell you that Elaine Kirsch Edsall passed away peacefully on January 5th at Forest Holme hospice in Poole. Elaine battled bravely against cancer for 30 years.
Her husband Mark was with her, holding her hand. Rest in peace darling wife, dearest friend. You remain forever in our hearts.
Elaine’s funeral was held on January 19th. The words that follow were shared at that service.
“Despite the cancer trying to kill me at annoyingly frequent intervals, I’ve had a lovely life.
I only ever wanted to be with Mark, see my friends, spend time with my horse and do my work…and that’s exactly what I did.
Without the depth and strength of Mark’s love I couldn’t have lived so long; I didn’t know it was possible to love and be loved so much and feel so utterly content in his arms.
My wonderfully loyal inspirational friends who carried me over bad times, rejoiced with me in the good, cried, laughed, giggled, healed, and have always known the best answer to any problem was cake. My life became so much richer because of you, so much better.
Generous horses found me in unexpected ways. They taught me to reach inside myself and find a simpler way of communicating. To listen. To feel. To find my Quiet Place. They showed me joy in small achievements and that no matter how often you start over, it’s where you end that counts.
I nearly became a horsewoman; I ended in exactly the right place to start again next time around.
Work was never really work. I loved the excitement of buying stock, even when doing so meant getting up at some ungodly hour. I loved setting up stalls and selling, but most of all I loved organising the vintage fairs. All the people coming together to create a wonderland, and all the people coming to buy and saying how much they enjoyed it.
I’ve had the pleasure of indulging my passions throughout my life, I’ve made the best of what landed at my feet, and now I fully intend to make the most of dying.
I’ll leave you to carry on living for me.
Make sure it’s good.”
“It’s strange how a life changing moment can arrive hidden in a seemingly ordinary day.
Such a moment came to me some 31 years ago, when I went to help paint a cottage, outside of Wimborne.
On the second day, I heard the words “Hi I’m Elaine” and I looked up. Before me stood a vision in tight blue jeans and a tee shirt, with masses of curly chestnut hair, bright blue eyes and the most amazing sunshine smile that simply lit up my world.
I was lost for words- a rare occurrence- and little did I realise it then- but that smile would be lighting up my world for the next 3 decades.
We bonded over cigarettes and tea, became friends, fell in love and married some 5 years later.
Elaine lived life at full speed; she was always on the go, rarely resting except when she was actually asleep. I was soon roped in to her world of Antique and later Vintage Fairs, Auctions, Boot Sales and later house clearances.
Elaine did the planning- I did the more practical stuff and as we each found our levels, we worked better and better as a team. We must have spent more time with each other than many couples who have been married twice as long as we were.
Elaine’s other great love was her horses. Her last, Bruce, was an injured challenge when she got him but typically, she would not give up on him and he owed his last 11 years of life to her dedication. She was the first to acknowledge what she owed to him. As her health suffered, his needs, both physical and psychological, kept her mind focused on him and away from the darker areas of her own situation.
In her last years, greatly encouraged by horsewoman, author and friend Anna Blake, Elaine turned to writing and discovered a new talent with words and story-telling.
She had work published and also wrote a weekly blog: “A horse, a husband and cancer”, which was full of her wry observations on life, death and all the quirky stuff in between. It was hugely well received. Elaine was working on a book of her life and experiences when she died.
Cancer was ever present in our relationship, but Elaine refused ever to ‘wear it like a badge’. She would say “I want people to see me first and not the cancer”
Some people would come forward with sympathy when they found out- but Elaine would have none of it. There was no time in her world for lowered voices and hushed tones. She just wanted to get on with life and let the possibility of death stay suspended in the background- almost out of sight.
I have lost count of the number of hospital visits, scans, operations, procedures, radiology and chemo she endured. Yet there was no self- pity or “Why me” from Elaine. I knew that it was for us as a couple that she went through it all and it was for us that I stood by her side.
The only good thing about her illness was that it brought us ever closer together in a bond of love that remained defiant to the end. “I won’t be scared if you are there with me” she once said about dying and I promised her that I would be there.
I stayed with her at the Hospice to make damn sure that I would be there and it was a bittersweet privilege to hold her hand as her life gently faded away.
She wasn’t afraid of dying. She would say; “I’m going off to start a new adventure- it’s just that I’ve got to start this one on my own.”
Life was one long adventure with Elaine. There was laughter and tears, hope and despair, humour- mostly black- and tons of love.
I have been blessed beyond words to have had such a partner to love and be loved by, and with whom to face life’s challenges head on.
Elaine promised me that she will be there when it’s my time to go. Sat in the stillness of the hospice at night, I pondered on how this reunion might take place:
I think I’ll ‘wake up’ by the large copper beech tree in our driveway and I’ll walk down towards The Lodge. The truck will be parked outside and fully loaded- in fact it will be overloaded. Elaine will be sat in the passenger seat. She’ll wind down the window and say:
“Come on Ted, where the Hell have you been, we’ve got a fair to go and do.”
I’ll look at the back of the truck and as always, there’s enough to fill several stall pitches… But I’ll just sigh inwardly and walk round to the driver’s side, all the time hoping that she’s remembered the cold beer and Indian takeaway for later on.
I’ll climb in beside her, start the engine, beep the horn twice, and we’ll say “All aboard the Skylark”- A silly ritual we shared and I will look over towards her. And that sunshine smile will come and light up my world once again.
Then we will be off and it’s the start of a new adventure together, only this time it’ll last forever. I can honestly say that I can hardly wait for it to begin.
Goodnight my beloved darling- don’t wander far without me.”
Elaine would want to thank you for reading this blog , and for the time being, I am going to keep the blog running, to tell how it was in those last days with her and to try and convey my own personal feelings and my take on how things are now in my life without Elaine. -Mark