Friday, February 26, 2016

In memory of Freda Alexander: a wise woman, and steadfast in the face of death

The last time i saw Freda it was obvious she was dying. She told me her body wasn’t so good, but in herself she was absolutely fine.

And it was obvious that she was.

She was my spiritual adviser. She was happy to meet me the last couple of times that we met, though she said she wasn’t well enough to give me spiritual advice.

I didn’t want to ask for it, given how ill she was. But she gave it anyway.

Cancer had been a very present, if not consciously acknowledged, presence at all our meetings. So her dying was something I had long anticipated; and Freda treated Death’s coming like the arrival of an old and long expected friend.

Someone, or something she was not at all afraid of; but also someone she was in no particular hurry to meet. Because life, for her, was such an amazing blessing.

Death being someone, or something, to be simply encountered as part of living in the sure knowledge that at the right time it would come.

Every time we’d met in the past she’d helped me hugely with her words. With the wisdom in her understanding of life.With her completely easy and natural acceptance of who I am and her enthusiastic understanding and support of my project to present Jesus as a transsexual woman.

The last thing she gave me was a simple message of love and support for all her trans friends; and all this, coming as it did from someone so deeply embedded in the Christian tradition, meant a huge amount to me.

And then I’d so love the discussions we had about the theory of relativity and its relationship to the coming new social order. I so loved the way she approached spiritual matters with so open a heart and with all the intellectual brilliance of her brilliant mathematical mind.

Those last two meetings when she said she couldn’t give me spiritual direction of course she actually did. Spiritual direction of the most profound and special kind.

She was so happy when I told her so. Because through everything she always wanted to give.

And the gift she gave me was not so much all the wonderful things she said. It was the wonderful way she was: the way she was in the face of death.

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