FEW quotations so aptly define the paradox of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's controversy-racked public life as the words of American anti-slavery author Harriet Beecher Stowe: "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."
There was so much, as far as her detractors were concerned, that Tshabalala-Msimang could have done - and said - as then health minister. Words that would have helped prevent the death, or ameliorated the suffering, of millions living with Aids who were prevented from having access to antiretrovirals.
No surprise then that her death has reopened wounds over critical time lost and, more seriously, lives lost as a consequence of her openly defiant stance over the use of ARVs.
Left unsaid, still, would have been a simple SORRY to the nation. Sorry for her fallacious punting of garlic, beetroot, olive oil and lemon as an alternative to Aids drugs.
Shed anew in the wake of her death are the bitterest tears over the graves of thousands of sufferers who died needlessly. Not least over Tshabalala-Msimang's intransigence as well as the failed leadership on the issue of former president Thabo Mbeki, dubiously robed together as Aids denialists.
As ironical as it might seem, though, Tshabalala-Msimang was an unshakeable patriot of this country. She loved it no less than she cared for her people.
Barring her folly, now juxtaposed as a monument to her existence, she remains decorated as a courageous freedom fighter and one of the foremost architects of a democratic South Africa.