Caia

Memorial Service: Rose-Marie Batley

Caia Lee Miller
July 1, 2006
Lovingly from Rose-Marie

Much has been said about Caia, a wonderful daughter and sister, a magnificent friend and colleague, a life we all cherish.

I am fortunate to have had time with Caia over the past 10 years that I might not otherwise have had were she not so unwell -- for if she had been healthier, she would have continued to be a whirling dervish reorganizing life and the world as we know it. I could not have kept up.

Only one month ago June, Misi and I visited Caia for a couple of days -- she was, as always, a gracious hostess -- and we had many laughs at our purchases and foibles. As we left, we waved goodbye to her standing in her bay window. It never entered my head I would not see her there again. She looked so cheery. A week later, Caia was in the hospital.

Caia was a brilliant young woman -- skilled seemingly at all she took on: engineering, demography, volleyball, soccer, languages, driving, cartoons. Many of us believed that Caia knew just about everything and what she did not know offhand, she could figure out given the time. More than once, I solicited or was asked to solicit her help no matter where she was, as in: "Have you asked Caia yet?"

She was interested in and interesting to all who encountered her. For me, her delight in mathematics and problem-solving was enchanting. While she was recovering from her transplant 10 years ago, she developed the "number of holes in a t-shirt" formula. I should have recorded the formula and the reasoning, for the girl who could develop things from 1st principles is not here to tell me any more. (There are 3, by the way, holes in a t-shirt.) I am thrilled that she chose her Mathematics book as one of only two books she would take to a desert island.

Caia was considerate, compassionate, and generous. Whatever anyone did for Caia was acknowledged, usually with a small, hand-written note. Her gifts were thoughtful and suited the recipient well. It was Caia and Seanís idea that the cousins would make a donation to a charity rather than exchange Christmas gifts. She created a cartoon that shows her making a donation hoping it will make a difference. Though very ill, she continued to think of others and what they might need or want ahead of her own greater needs or wants -- even to the extent of wishing for better weather for those celebrating St Jean-Baptiste day last weekend.

She endeared herself to people wherever she went. Two years ago, when Caia returned home after several months in the hospital, her friends surrounded her, visiting her often in Montreal in the glorious apartment she and her mother created for what they knew to be her final chapters. Caia, in turn, with her momís approval but also her momís trepidation, visited them in Toronto, Florida, North Bay, Ottawa and who knows how many other places she was off to before she determined she actually had no medical travel insurance! Her friends have been a source of love and joy for Caia -- all of Caiaís friends (so many of them here today) knew they could count on her to be there for them. Similarly, they can take heart that they were all there for her when she needed them.

The medical staffs throughout Hôpital St Luc were equally enchanted with Caia. While she preferred to be out of the hospital altogether, there was no better hospital for her when she needed one. Indeed, we owe these dedicated people for our 2 extra years with Caia. Their relentless pursuit for a solution maintained our hopes and her presence. Caia remained grateful for all they had done saying she "really was just hoping for the 1st Christmas".

As she lived her life, making her decisions in a measured and delightful way, so too did Caia choose the time of her parting, saying to her doctors that while she "appreciated their Herculean efforts, she was really very tired and ready to go." Her decision to go, though difficult to accept, was understood. Many of the hospital staff visited her throughout this past month telling her she was amazing and beautiful (both true) and thanking her for all they had learned from her.

Caia never lost her defining quick wit and humour. She was a funny girl. Someone once remarked on a peculiar purse Caia had, saying it looked as if she were going to the moon. She replied that she would send us a postcard. There were more laughs than tears in her hospital room because of her nature and strong will to enjoy the time she had. When her platelets dropped to 6 two weeks ago, Caia decided they should name them. And she did! Even when doctors told her two years ago that they could not make her better, she thought a bit and said, "Suddenly, Iím rich", and "Bring on the salt".

She was not without her opinions. She and June would do cryptic crosswords each day. Caia had strict rules about how to approach a crossword. Last weekend, while the three of us were attempting a crossword, and I was still learning the rules, Caia announced that she was going to have a nap now because she "did not like being the slowest person in the room". Both June and I knew that when she woke up rested, she would be relinquishing that honour, if indeed she ever had it. And she spoke her mind -- something many of us are either too insecure to pull off well or do it without thinking. Few people have such a fine mind as Caiaís.

Caia had mastered just-in-time delivery for everything from catching a bus to completing assignments. In fact, she left going to the hospital this time until the last minute, laughing as she described to me how sore her leg was and how she crept along the sidewalk to the taxi stand at the corner. Who can forget her huge smile and infectious laugh? I can close my eyes and remember them always.

Caia was a courageous young woman. She was loyal to her friends, co-workers, and family. She was confident, fiercely independent, and a tough fighter. She made a difference in so many lives.

In fact, all we really need to know, we could have learned from Caia ...

Caia did not learn her lessons from the ground. You only need to know her mother June, her brother Sean, and have known her dad, David, to understand this is an extraordinary family. Caia had a warm and close relationship with her dad. I recently heard her telling June she was "the best Mom ever". What mother wouldnít like to hear that? If you had seen the care and love June extended to Caia, you would know this was so true. Sean and Caia were best friends -- sharing and strategizing the ups and downs of their lives. I never heard of them fighting. I am privileged to have been included in so many of their joys and sorrows.

I value every minute I spent with Caia, no matter the circumstances. Our family is rich with jewels -- both young and older. Anyone can see that. Caia was a shining gem among them and a treasure to all who knew her -- we should all take with us at least one lesson from Caia and live it every day.

Fairness does not govern life or death -- if it did, we would still have Caia with us and she would be well. Life will end for all of us at some time. Love does not end. Our love for Caia will be with all of us to our ends.

Today our hearts are full of sadness for our loss and for what Caia did not get to do. This is normal. In time, we will replace this sadness with the joy she gave us in the short time she had. This should be her legacy -- that we will give her gift of joy to others we know and love. Let us each promise to live a lesson from Caia.

We will all miss this amazing young woman.

Caia loved Canada Day. How fitting then that we say goodbye to her today. The fireworks tonight on Parliament Hill will be for and from Caia. What a wonderful way every year to remember Caia and to renew our promise to live her lessons.