It wasn't unexpected. She'd first started to complain of a pain in her knee some years ago, but -typically for her, and against the advice of all her friends, myself included- hadn't gone to see a doctor until walking had become an agony -- by then, there was very little they could do for her. She was diagnosed with bone cancer in an advanced state. Again, typically for her, she refused all conventional treatment and sought alternative therapy. In the end, she held out almost a year longer than the oncologists had given her, and I imagine her now, thumbing her nose at them from up high.
Celine was a dancer, and she remained one even if some twenty years ago she put away her ballet shoes in favour of a new career as a physiotherapist, and if in the last two years of her life simply moving about became increasingly more difficult. She was beautiful, lithe, dark and mercury quick, and the lasting impression I have of her is of her dark, intelligent doe eyes and ready, radiant smile.
We met in Israel, where she spent an increasing amount of time as the years went on. She showed me around Jerusalem and helped me get my bearings in this strange, strange city. I think the only reason she never made aliyah was the fact that she couldn't do without her family (daughters and granddaughters) for more than 6 weeks at a stretch, and they had their lives here. Because she was away so often, we didn't see each other all that much, but when we did see each other, we spent hours catching up, talking deep into the night, about all the things that matter, and a lot of things that don't. And we spoke on the phone a lot. God! I shall miss those phone calls.
And even if her death wasn't unexpected, as I said before; coming so soon as it did on the news of poor Richard's fatal accident, it's knocked me for six, and it's hard for me to think about anything else. Least of all, what I'm going to wear to the GotR-gig tomorrow night (I still haven't the foggiest).