The sudden death of a close friend has blind-sighted my family and me.
Tara Hunt was a strong and inspirational woman. She was only 54 and leaves behind a husband, three children and a gaping hole in the lives of many of her friends.
The more than 500 mourners who came to farewell her at a memorial service this weekend is testimony to how well loved and respected she was.
Tara was a philanthropist and tireless campaigner for the climate and indigenous rights.
She was one of the founding members of the 1 Million Women campaign whose manifesto is:
"WE'RE BUILDING A MOVEMENT OF STRONG, INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN AND GIRLS ACTING ON CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH THE WAY WE LIVE."
The 1 Million Women philosophy is simple: it's usually women who make the purchasing decisions in most households - from dishwashing liquid to energy companies and therefore informed women can be powerful warriors in the battle to save our planet.
˜Tara Hunt was certainly one of those front line warriors.
In 2013 she travelled to Warsaw with the 1MW group to the United Nations Climate Change Conference while the Abbot government was shamefully absent.
She trekked twice through Sumatra to highlight the plight of orangutans left homeless after Indonesian farmers plundered their jungle habitat to plant palm oil.
Tara’s Hunt Foundation gave substantial grants to ‘Aunty Rosie’s Place’ – a centre in Cairns that cares for pregnant indigenous women and their children.
In recent years Tara became an active member of the Australian Environmental Grant Makers network encouraging corporations to become philanthropists.
At home, Tara loved to gather people around her. As a trained chef she was famous for her good cooking and hospitality.
Another of her passions was fresh, seasonal produce and the outdoors. She competed in ocean swims, walked extensively and practiced yoga. So, it was a shock to everyone when last year, Tara was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer.
Tara - cancer? Surely, there's been a mistake.
When I asked a friend who has a PhD in immunology how that could happen - I expected him to give me hope but instead he said, 'sometimes, shit happens.'
That's not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear if you live a good, healthy life then you'll live a long time.
But Tara's mother died of cancer when she was a child. Tara's healthy lifestyle probably kept her almost symptom-free well into her illness.
I was in denial about Tara's illness and believed she would get better because good people don't die young. I didn't see her as much as I should have. My fear kept me away.
On Saturday May 27, Tara spent the day at a friend's birthday lunch enjoying the company, food and a couple of glasses of fine Pinot Noir. That night a clot in her lungs set off a violent coughing fit. She collapsed and was rushed to hospital. By Sunday afternoon she was gone.
I still can't believe it.
I'm not asking to be forgiven for staying away but I do want it to be a warning to others - if you have a sick friend - don't take for granted the time they have left. See them now.
And in memory of a wonderful woman please consider donating: https://1millionwomen.nationbuilder.com/tarahunt