Anne Wallace died on October 27, 2015 of a massive brain hemorrhage. Anne was sixty-one-years-old. 

Anne was an enormously energetic, vibrant, creative individual. She was tremendously accomplished professionally and deeply loved by a wide range of people. Anne Wallace

The impact Anne had on the many communities she touched can been seen by the large gathering to celebrate her life that took place in Kelowna where Anne died and had served for ten years as a judge in the Provincial Court and then again last night by the gathering of some three hundred people in Victoria at Oak Bay High School to honour Anne’s life.

As guests arrived at the school for last night’s ceremony, we were each handed a small pamphlet outlining the evening. On the back of the pamphlet in Anne’s handwriting was a small testimony in her own words that articulates something Anne believed about death:

January 10/86

I think, sometimes, about if I died, suddenly – say tomorrow. What would it be like for those people I love who are left behind.

I hope they wouldn’t be sad for me. I hope they would rejoice in all the good that has come to me. Because God has blessed me with a spirit that experiences more joy in a week – in a day, even – than many people experience in an entire life. He’s just given me that ability. And I’ve appreciated it. And so I’ve looked for all the good I can and that brought me so much happiness. I just can’t feel sad if I died suddenly while I was still young because I have had so much. So I hope no one else would be sad. I hope they would see the joy instead.

Anne’s husband found these words written on a small piece of paper in a safe in the family home when he was going through papers after Anne’s death. The remarkable thing about these words is that they were not written in the middle of a long wasting illness at the end of a full life. Anne was thirty-two-years-old when she wrote this small note.

Her husband acknowledged that he had no idea what was going through his wife’s mind when she wrote down these words. Anne was not given to fits of melancholy. She was an energetic, enthusiastic person who always vibrated with life and vitality. Yet, even as a still young woman, Anne thought about death. And she pondered the possibility of her own death, not with regret or despair, but with a spirit of celebration.

The key to Anne’s attitude towards death is that she understood everything that comes before life is a gift. She wrote:

I hope they would rejoice in all the good that has come to me.

In spite of her enormous hard work, her great accomplishments, and her wide circle of influence, Anne never took life for granted. She did not believe she had earned the many blessings that had come into her life. She understood from an early age that life is a gift.

We did not create ourselves. We do not sustain our lives. Every breath that we breath, every beat of our heart is pure gift. This understanding made it possible for Anne to go through life seeking to “see the joy,” and to help others find “the joy” in their lives.

Although Anne’s physical presence is no longer available to grace this material realm, the vitality and joy she found in life remain to inspire and encourage those of us who still carry in our bodies the gift of life. As we embrace the gift of life, we will, like Anne, grow in our ability to “see the joy” that is always possible in this life.