Helen’s funeral was beautiful and a tribute to the influence she has had. It filled the lower level of the Old Vic building at Victoria University. Eulogies from friends, her brother and sister, supervisor, father, and husband were moving and spoke universally of her selflessness and determination to make life count in the face of lifelong cardiac risks. They also detailed her curiosity and insight, devotion to teaching, and impressive academic accomplishments during her PhD.
She had directed that the memorial be held in the style and spirit of her wedding, so there were activities (anthropomorphizing mandarin oranges with black jiffy markers, people spontaneously playing the piano) and vast amounts of excellent food, much of it with meringue googly eyes on it.
The tone ranged from pained and somber to jubilant and appreciative, sometimes within a span of seconds. It was clear from how people spoke of her that my comparatively few experiences with Helen were typical: demonstrative of her compassion, creativity, and immediate willingness to connect with people.