Our beautiful, funny, caring Carol-Lynn died as the sun began to rise over Montreal, on May 7, 2018 at the age of 53. She will be deeply missed by her loving husband Guillaume Hervé, cherished sons Nicolas and Alexandre, her parents Agnes Nagy and Pierre Chayer, her sister Lorraine (Brian Farrell), brother Robert (Marie-Chantal Poitras), her parents-in-law Nicole Dufay and Henri Hervé, her sisters and brothers in law, nieces and nephews, extended family and friends who were like family.
Carol-Lynn and I met in Saint-Thomas High School (Pointe-Claire) in 1982 and graduated as high school sweethearts, which is to say we were part of each other’s lives for 35 years as best friends, lovers, husband and wife and parents. What was as true in 1982 as it was on the day she passed is that Carol-Lynn brought a unique light and warmth to all who met her. She was loving, caring and compassionate to her family and friends. My sons and I wanted to write an obituary that represented the person she was.
Hers was a sacred and wonderful calling and she embraced it with all her heart and with every ounce of energy she could find. She wanted to be the best mom and companion she could be while helping those around her as best she could. So, she decided to quit working when Nicolas, our first son, was born and continued with Alexandre. In fact, she would return to work, only part-time, only once her sons were mostly fully grown – or, as she would put it, “almost completely baked and out of the oven.” That same bountiful kindness, commitment, love and devotion she brought to her family, would be found in the relationships she made with those she met. She truly cared for people and would spend much time worrying about others, always seeking to give but never ever looking for anything in return. She brought a kind smile and sense of humour that would make others feel comfortable. She did this until the end, making people who visited her in the hospital laugh and even making the medical staff comfortable and often disarming them with a quick joke or a warm smile.
She was always shy and never seeking the spotlight, but for someone who wanted to stay quiet and in the background, she sure left her mark on people. This was best exemplified by the work she did at Voluntas working with bereaved families following the loss of a loved one. This was not an industry she ever in her wildest dreams thought she would be in but something inside her pulled her towards this new career. As she would explain when asked how can she work with the dead, Carol-Lynn would answer, “you don’t understand, I don’t work with the dead, I help the living grieve and get through a very difficult moment in their lives.” And she did. Many would thank her for the genuine compassion she brought to every single family she interacted with. She loved to listen to people, care for them and help them heal.
To tell the story of one’s life, one needs much more than this short column. But here are a few things she loved: her sons, her husband, her family, friends, children; she had a soft spot for children she met and she made them feel unique and special, quilting; oh those beautiful quilts, health and natural foods and products, reading from a broad spectrum of topics; extremely well read, there were always 3-4 books around, sudoku, crossword puzzles, her garden, movies, restaurant outings, traveling, snuggling as a family, family gatherings, volunteering, listening to good music, CBC radio, meditation, Christmas, shopping for those awesome stocking stuffers, chips (apparently Cape Cods are the best), puzzles, playing cards and board games. She also loved to walk with me. We would take long walks almost daily and eventually could complete the Camino de Santiago together in 2015; 900 kilometers, side by side, supporting each other through difficult patches and across wonderful landscapes, as we had done all our lives.
Carol-Lynn died from complications from metastatic breast cancer. A cancer she fought in 2014 and then again in September of 2017 and again in 2018. But eventually she passed away on her terms. At peace with herself, at ease with death, and surrounded by the ones she loved. As she would so often say, “It was in love I was created and in love is how I hope I die.” She was certainly the bravest person we knew. Not only because of the way she fought her disease with such positivity, hope and conviction, while making those around her feel comfortable, but by the way she made her choices in life. Her bravery can maybe best be described by the way Carol-Lynn was dedicated to questioning her strongly held beliefs. While most of us shy away from taking a good, hard look in the mirror, she would look in places that she wasn’t satisfied with and work relentlessly to become the best human being she could be following a path of deep reflection to find true spirituality. Her health choices with food, body, and mind is why most who found out about her disease could simply not believe it because of the way she radiated. Regarding cancer, Carol-Lynn would want us to share with you that she did not want to be defined as a cancer patient, but simply as a person who happens to be fighting cancer.
We will miss her so very much, but she has gone to a better place, free of worry, and is reunited with her brother Marc.
The celebration of Carol-Lynn’s life will take place at Fritz Community Centre, 20477 Lakeshore, Baie-D’Urfé, Qc H9X 1R3 (514-695-7979), on Friday, May 18 from 3-7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory to the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre, where she (and I) found great support, resources and compassionate caring, would be appreciated. Special thanks to her colleagues and dear friends at Voluntas Commemoration where she worked and enjoyed serving families and who have been there for us in this very difficult time, to her healthcare team at the West Island Integrative Health Center and the Cornwall Naturopathic Clinic, her team at the Cedars Cancer Center and the staff at the oncology department of the Royal Victoria Hospital who showed great compassion and care. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Voluntas.ca (514-695-7979).