When An Angel Becomes A Star

Less than two weeks ago, I wrote about a friend of mine, Mary, who married her long-time partner, Rodney, in a beautiful, yet simple, ceremony in Sydney (see Picture of Love, Togetherness and Strength).  Last Friday, I was so proud of myself for using my new-found Windows Movie Maker skills when I made a short wedding video with the photos I had taken at their wedding and put it to music with a couple of Bruno Mars songs.  It was my little gift to Mary for her 39th birthday.  She had replied back, via Rodney, to say the video had put a smile on her face.  Rodney was excited about being on YouTube.

Mary and Me in Adelaide, Nov 2009

Sadly, today, I awoke to the news that Mary had passed away this morning in Adelaide, having lost her brave battle with cancer.  The news has greatly upset me all day for many reasons and I have been trying to find the right words to express this.  The passing of a loved one is never easy to accept.  The loss of one so young – a contemporary, well, actually younger than me by several months – with a young family and so much to live for, just adds to the craziness of how the world works.  Perhaps the most frustrating (is that the right word?) part about this loss is that I feel like Mary and I only just “found” each other again 2 years ago after having only seen each other once or twice since we finished high school.  When we caught up in November 2009 in Adelaide, we had even talked about meeting up in Melbourne one time when my football team, the Sydney Swans, played hers, Collingwood Magpies.

Mary is the one sitting on the ground in front of me

Although I would say Mary and I didn’t have too much in common in terms of background or education, looking back, we shared a similar sense of humour and neither of us ever really was one to mince words.  She was honest, down-to-earth and sincere.  She was a crazy, fun and always bubbly girl, so full of life.  And I know, even as she was getting sicker, she lived for her children.  She spoke with such pride whenever she talked of her two girls when we last met.  It’s crazy to think that was the same girl who was the tomboy athlete I went to school with 🙂

The traditional Yr 12 muck-up day - last day of school. Mary in the hat in the midst of things

I know part of growing up and growing older is learning to accept death and coping with the loss.  Last year, I lost an aunt in New York and my grandmother in Hong Kong.  I knew when I saw Mary at her wedding less than five weeks ago that her battle with cancer this time would be even tougher than the last.  Still, I wanted to believe that Mary’s competitive spirit would help her fight this battle one more time and she would beat the sucker once and for all.

I don’t really have any words of wisdom to share.  I know life will go on.  I know that my life has been richer for having met and known Mary.  I know that Rodney will continue to do a wonderful job raising the girls and, as they get older, will share stories about their mother so that they will always know her.

The ‘Pies will be playing the Swans on 25th June this season.  The way they have been playing, the ‘Pies are a shoo-in to win.  I will have a drink in her memory.  Perhaps when Mary and I meet again in Heaven, whenever that may be, we will catch that game together, and she might even let my Swans win 🙂  And tonight, when I look up into the sky and see a bright star shining, I would like to think it is an angel looking down and watching over her family and friends.

The Sands Family: Rodney, Kylan, Mary and Mia

For information on ovarian cancer, visit http://www.ovariancancer.net.au/


16 thoughts on “When An Angel Becomes A Star

  1. Holly Merriday

    So sweet and beautiful! I really like the title too.
    I hope it helped at least a little to write this.
    The younger the victim, the sadder the disease is. 😦


    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Yes it helped a little. Digging through old photos from high school reminded me of how young and innocent we all were and what silly schoolgirls we were. There were photos I had completely forgotten about and made me laugh. I’m sure if Mary had seen these photos again her reaction would have been “OMFG!” 🙂


  2. Simone Duncombe

    Hi Valerie ,
    Remember me….
    This link popped up on my facebook page and something led me to read it and my absolutely heart broke I remember Mary and to think someone we went to school with has passed just devastating .We are so young my heart goes out to her family


    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Hi Simone,
      I was devastated when I found out Mary had cancer 2yrs ago. Then I was so relieved when she came through treatment and the baby was fine. I just keep remembering her sitting at my dining table last year having afternoon tea and chatting merrily away just before the cancer came back. But Mary has left behind her beautiful little girls and Rodney is a gem. He will make sure the girls know their mother is always with them.


  3. Rebecca May

    I have had the privilege of knowing Mary, Rodney & the girls for the past 3 years and have been devastated by Mary’s illness and her death yesterday. Your posts have given me a huge amount of comfort. You write so beautifully and truly capture the essence of Mary’s personality and love for life. She was an amazing woman who will be forever missed. RIP Mary xoxo


  4. Leanne

    I knew Mary through a church group, Sefton Antioch, and she was always the life of the party, always there to put a smile on your face, and always the first one to offer a shoulder to cry on….Mary, I wish you were here, so I could have that shoulder to cry on again, because you are one of a kind my friend…You will be sadly missed and NEVER forgotton….


  5. cathie

    Yes, your words echo with all of us Val. Im so glad and feel previlaged that i got to see Mary and Rod marry. Mary and I had some good times. I remember her, Julianne and I going to the BROS concert in year 11, gosh, that was a fun night.
    Thanks Mary for always being you.


  6. Laura Vivoni

    My condolences for your loss. Thanks for sharing your experiences, in a way you are keeping her memory alive through your blog and introducing her to other people that will also know her and remember her thanks to you. In our memories she will live on for ever.


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