Jacque – my sister-in-law, my brother’s wife, my nephew’s mother – loving, devoted, active, compassionate – was killed in a car crash at Easter. These are the words I spoke on behalf of our family at her funeral on Monday:

Jacque was a loved and valued sister, daughter, Aunty, member of the Richardson family.

And since she met my brother in 1999 she became a Marsden too, and a wife and Mum.

As a family geographically spread out around the North Island we come together on celebrations, so the Jacque we knew was holiday Jacque, birthday Jacque, Christmas Jacque, celebration Jacque.

I am sure she must have had an everydayness to her, and up days and down days, and happy days and tough days, but we never saw that. For me, she was always smiling, laughing, talking and listening.

In the past week and a day, we have had lots of words, shared lots of stories, cried lots of tears.

When we shared our favourite memories it struck me that the stories of Jacque fitted three themes:

Moving, Caring and Talking

Jacque was moving – she was always active, whether it was walking Lucy around One Tree Hill, or Hamurana Springs, being on the farm, biking for miles, swimming in Lake Taupo, she was always active and making the most of every moment.

Jacque was caring – she was always prepared, she made a beautiful home for Rob and Daniel, and the most amazing baking and food – she would always turn up with Tupperware containers full of the most delicious treats. While I’m the sort of person who leaves it all to the last minute and hopes there’s a café en route, Jacque always had it sorted, and there was plenty to go around.

Jacque was talking – and not just talking, listening. She was an amazing listening ear, empathetic, not an advice giver, just someone who when you talked about anything and everything, you know she heard. Jacque and I were both considering studying counselling in 2016, I was looking forward to learning alongside her, and I am very sorry we won’t be seeing it through.

With her active compassion – she would have been a brilliant counsellor.

Moving, caring, talking.

On the morning of Easter Sunday I was watching a motivational Ted talk on life and happiness.

It asked the question “What does Freedom mean to you?” and promised that your own answer would lead to your life’s happiness.

In the time since that day the question has stuck in my mind, I’m not sure I have an answer for myself, but

For Jacque, Freedom was being able to run the farm, watch the stock, be there for Daniel when he got off the school bus, and starred in a soccer game, keep the fire going at home, look after her boys.

It was also piling the bikes on the back of the ute, or in the plane, heading off to beautiful places and spending the day with her boys, and friends, and family, riding the countryside.

She had her answer, tragically cut short, she had her freedom and she was living true happiness.

As a church full of people here today that loved Jacque, perhaps her life may inspire you to find your answer in the way she found hers. What does freedom mean to you?

Jacque – moving, caring, talking, loving. Happy. She will be sorely missed.

Jacque’s death has been reported on in the Waikato Times and NZ Herald. Her obituary can be found here.


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