Having now heard from so many people who knew and loved Estelle, read the comments posted on this site, attended her funeral, and shed my tears, the right words are still so difficult to express because they are so inadequate. But it must be done to honour her, and to share my experience of her with others who also were touched by her short life.
Estelle would have been shocked to realise the impact and influence she had been in so many lives. It will be her testimony for many years, living in the hearts and minds of so many.
And I am no exception, it has made me think deeply about myself, how I am and how I can change/improve as a human.
A short while ago, a wise Maori gentleman shared with me the now haunting words “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!”
What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!
That reality has hit home with so many of us as an aftermath of the Christchurch tragedy.
But the more relevant observation for me is that while Estelle may not have known these words, she was the living embodiment of this principle.
She simply lit up peoples lives. When she entered a room, her magnificent, sincere, winning smile just won people over, and it was so natural. Estelle never sought to be the centre of attention, but she was no wallflower. Her presence in any group was peaceful, powerful and fun loving. . Estelle just being Estelle won hearts all over the world.
She got so much joy out of the simple things in life; a shared conversation, a laugh, watching a young child. This is so evident from the photos I have seen. There is one of her as a child with a magnificent scowl on her face and even that makes people laugh. I am sure I am right in saying that in all of the others I have seen the smile is present, and it is always in the eyes, so genuine.
Estelle had a huge influence on my family, and it will live on.
Thank you is so inadequate but sincerely expressed is still appropriate.
Estelle Marie Cullen, a wonderful gift to us all, a tragic loss.
Rest in peace Estelle, and keep smiling just as we will always remember you.
Love – Mike Pinkney