Goodbye, sweet Meg
Posted on September 21, 2012 by Danielle
As I’m sure most, if not all, of Meg’s readers know, Megan – my daughter – lost her battle with cancer on June 16. I have been meaning for a long time to post something here, for her, and for me, but didn’t know how to do justice to her unique writing style, her inspirational character, her sweet soul. And I confess – I’ve been putting it off. Things that bring her death into sharp focus have a precipice-like quality.
But it’s past time. I feel I have been neglecting my duty to her. I can’t think of anything better to post here than the obituary I wrote (borrowing words too from others who loved her), for publication in the Victoria Times-Colonist. In the end the published version was a bit shorter… this is the original.
Newton, Shelah Megan. May 9, 1982 – June 16, 2012. With great sadness we bid farewell, far too soon, to our beloved Meg, her life cut short by melanoma. Megan was an artist/set designer/stage manager/crafter and administrator at large; passionate about theatre, and especially that which challenged audiences and convention. While Operations Manager at Intrepid Theatre, she established the YOU Show, an outreach program for artists to test original new works with an audience, and the annual Monobrow Cabaret for Uno Fest. She also lent her talents to many companies as a skilled and dedicated set designer and stage manager. When not inside dark rooms, Meg might be painting, knitting, riding her trusty bicycle, or making delicious wheat-free meals in the kitchen or on a camp stove. Her prodigious organizational skills, irreverent humour and enjoyment of each small pleasure sustained both her and her loved ones through her illness. Meg stared terminal cancer in the face and never flinched, and in this – as in so many things – she was inspirational to everyone who knew her. Meg is lovingly remembered and sorely missed by her mother, Danielle Baxter, her brother Ben, her sister Anna Brandfors, her partner Grant Winkler, her grandparents (Ruth Calder; David Baxter and Carol McEown; Jim Salt), many friends and colleagues, and extended family. We imagine her spirit warmly welcomed by those of her father, Ben Sr., and cousin Matthew. We thank the dedicated and compassionate people who cared for Meg and for us through her illness. If you wish, donations may be made in Meg’s memory to the Megan Newton Memorial Fund (Victoria Foundation) to support an award for students in theatre, or to the BC Cancer Foundation.
I won’t write about Meg’s last days, except to say that she bore great pain and increasing incapacitation with a grace that inspired and humbled all of us who cared for her. And as cliched as it may sound, when someone you love is suffering like that, there is relief in their death.
For several weeks afterward, though I knew she was gone I couldn’t feel it… I was numb, and it didn’t seem real. On July 7 we had a memorial gathering for Meg here at “the ol’ homestead”, and the sun shone and many people came – many of her friends and colleagues from Victoria, and family and old friends from hither and yon. It was a lovely afternoon, and she would have enjoyed it. And the next day we spread her ashes in her favourite camping spot, on the estuary near Squamish. It’s a beautiful place, with mountains and sea and fragrant winds and no bears. Meg didn’t trust bears.
More weeks have passed, and life has returned to its old routines, and it’s real now. I am surrounded by special things that ought to be in her house. I never answer the phone to hear her sweet voice. I want to ask her – oh, a million things. I want to have sushi with her at our favourite place in Kits – or take her to the Vietnamese restaurant I discovered in Walnut Grove. I want to go Victoria and find her waiting for me just as she always was before, with a new painting to show me, or to pick her up at the ferry for a weekend visit – she’d always bring me a lemon square from Cascadia, and I’d have a couple of truffles or a Grand Cherry from Euphoria for her. And her sister and brother… I won’t presume to speak for them, nor to infringe on their privacy, but I can see how terribly hard it is for them to be without their big sister.
Goethe wrote that “A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days”. Chatting with Meg one day not long before she died, I said those sounded like the words of someone who wasn’t fully acquainted with the alternatives. “Yes,” she said, “I’d be perfectly content with a succession of ordinary days.”
The Karl Kronicles - Continued