I have lost a friend

Where do I start writing a tribute to a leader and a friend that is far larger than any mere words that I can string together could ever hope to encompass? Yet this I must do as an era has come to a close within District 74 and it can not pass unremarked and unnoticed.

The first time I met Merryl sealed the deal; here was a beautiful caring soul, a deep well of Toastmasters knowledge and a caring generous heart; and we connected instantly, bonding over shared pain, common Toastmasters experiences and some challenges (at the time) that required attention. In the years that followed, of which there are too few, there was never a time that Merryl did not offer wisdom, experience and knowledge when called upon to do so. That is a good leader and she was that.

That was not her superpower though, her superpower was that she would share of herself with the only expectation being that you would grow, not that you would become indebted to her and have to “pay up” at some future date. She did not ask for help, though at times she should have, instead she offered it, she rarely demanded anything, and when she did it was for the District, not for herself. I challenge anyone to find a more selfless servant leader in our organisation.

As I sit here writing this, struggling to focus through blurry eyes (tears tend to do that), I am reminded not of the things Merryl did for the district, not even for the help she offered to me and my clubs/area/division, but of the things we spoke about, the feelings we shared about a variety of topics, the shared likes and the minutiae that makes us all the same, humans living through both good times and bad.

I am deeply aware of and saddened by the loss not only to the district, not only to our members who will never know how much Merryl gave to us all, but by the simple fact that she is no longer a phone call or a message away. We will never again, in this world, have that long winded chat over a smoke or five as we discuss in detail things that need discussing. The opportunity to do that is now lost, and all that remains is failing memories and the regret of a future lost.

If you strip away the ego, if you remove the trappings of society, the titles and qualifications, the ultimately unimportant details of daily living that we immerse ourselves in, the simple truth remains: I had the privilege of connecting with a beautiful soul that touched mine, that understood me and that allowed me to understand her, at a fundamental level that defines humans, not names and titles, but beings of light that recognise each other and laugh at the silliness that we take so seriously, that is known as everyday life. It is rare to make such connections with people and I am blessed to have had this one for a time, and am blessed to have more in my life that are the same and stronger. Nothing can take that away, not even the end of physical life, it is simply an interruption that will pass.

I choose not to grieve but to remember the bright radiant smile that always played on Merryl’s face when you called her to chat, the fact that no matter what was happening in her life she was there for you and she cared, sometimes to her own detriment, but always with love and concern for a friend. I humbly suggest to those that knew her to do the same and hold on to their memory of her, and share the lessons learnt with Merryl to those of us in the district that did not have the benefit of meeting Merryl Jubber, DTM.

Thank you Merryl for being who you are, remember us as you expand out into the cosmos for surely we will always remember you.

Dimitri Grekas, DTM