“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength”
These are the words carved into Jane’s headstone. Twelve simple words that, in my opinion, capture Jane’s character. I sometimes wonder what Jane would make of this quote. To my knowledge, she had never heard it before. She was, as far as I know, not aware of Saint Francis de Sales, the utterer of this beautiful combination of words that will forever be connected to Jane.
Collections of words, fragments of images, glimpses of events; these are the shadows that are left of Jane. I don’t want to be overly depressing, but I want to give you an insight into why Journey For Jane is so important to me.
As any of you who has lost someone close to you will know, from the moment that person passes it’s as if you carry the shell of grief on your back every day. You become used to it, you almost cherish it as a surrogate for the person who is gone. Yet every now and then the cumbersome weight of their absence, of your grief, can become overbearing.
You see, for me Journey For Jane is a pilgrimage; a chance to reconnect with my sister, even though she may be gone. I want to remember Jane for who she was, not for what happened to her. When I think of Jane in Scotland, I struggle to escape from the memories of late 2011. Yet, when I think of Jane in Sweden where I last saw her, in Rome on one of our first trips as adults, in Amsterdam in the cold winter months, or in Barcelona when she was enraptured by small animals being sold on Las Ramblas, these memories are almost exclusively happy. The journey, I hope, will allow these memories to become the majority, not mere momentary glimpses of light.
And while the journey has this enormous personal aspect, it is also wonderful to think that we can help other people in the process: children who have lost loved ones, students who have never had the chance to gain the incredible insights of an academic exchange. Having spent two years as a student in Sweden, I am fully aware of the great benefits of studying abroad and feel privileged to have the chance to make that a reality for someone else.
Every time I update this website I wonder what Jane would have thought of this journey. In all honesty, I just don’t know the answer. I know she would have cringed at all her photos and her name in the papers, but I like to think she would have supported us doing something positive. Finding light in the darkness. There is one more quote that will be forever linked to Jane’s memory. It was chosen by Jane’s former lecturers at Duncan of Jordanstone when they unveiled a cherry tree, and plaque, in her memory. Perhaps it best captures what we are trying to do with Journey For Jane.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”