You would think that the inevitability of death would mean that when it arrives I am not surprised. Death’s wake has left me in a state of disbelief two times in one week. In all the old ways, I’ve slipped away from my Pilates community in the past few years. This blog and my little studio are what keep me in the work. That’s where I am when I hear the news that Romana is no longer with us. And I don’t know what to write or say, only that it bears my sincere and heartfelt acknowledgement.
When I first met Romana in 2004 I cried. Because I knew I was meeting her so late in her life. It felt late in my own life, but I was lucky to have what time I did with her and I made the most of it. Once my own self-involved tears were shed I came to see the situation more broadly and to realize that this is very much a human condition. We are brilliant innovators, but we each only live so long and only give what we can in every moment, alone we each burn at the equivalent of one small candle. We become bigger through the creation of our unique contributions, through the relationships that we have, through the memories that those interactions create. In all those actions of a lifetime we pass the flame back and forth and depending on our life, by the time we are done, we may leave quite a bonfire behind when we finally say goodbye.
In the face of that enormity our lives are brief. But it is so important to remember our humanity, our mortality. Our humanity gives us the opportunity to do what we do and at the same time puts a limit on us. I think that the limit is the compelling part of it. The limit is what gives us the drive to share and to expand. Because without that expansion, we would each be only the light of a single candle. It is the sharing and the love of our relationships that creates the bright burning fires.
Joseph Pilates created the fire, Romana breathed more and more life into it so that by the time she said goodbye, she was at the center of a great bonfire. She has left us all with a great gift in the work of Pilates itself. But perhaps even more, she’s done an excellent job of ensuring that the flame will keep burning, long after Mr. Pilates’ goodbye, and long after her own.
At her purest form, Romana was loving and generous. We have proof of that in how many more people now have the work of Pilates to share with others. And now, we may each honor her by continuing on with the great work that she kept alive and by wishing her peace now that her work is done.
Love is all around always. Romana reminded us of that often.