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: valdary 1962 - 2010

Oh valdary. Somewhere up there you were having a good laugh at us earlier. I have to admit that I was in two minds as to whether to go to your funeral or not - my mother told me it was a little odd to go to the funeral of someone I've never actually met, only spoken to online, but I'm so glad I went. I wanted to go because while I didn't meet you before you passed on you were always a friend and this was the closest I could get to actually meeting you. What I saw earlier was a fitting celebration of your life and I'm sure you'd have been pleased with it.

Your wishes were carried out which made your funeral such a memorable and personal occasion. Only you would make me laugh at your own funeral by having The Ballad of Serenity as your entrance music. A beautiful and poignant song but one that brought a smile to my face to think how you'd chosen that and it did seem to slightly confuse a few people to start with. It's a shame that Firefly itself seems to parallel your life in that you both left us far too soon.
Your two hymns were both great choices and even though I didn't know the one I understood your reasoning. When A Knight Won His Spurs was particularly touching to me as I had it at my Christening so it's always held a place in my heart. Now it has more reasons to be there. Equally Stay by Shakespeare's Sister now also has a place in my heart. When it started playing at the end of the service you could almost hear the collective intake of breath as everyone tried to fight back the emotion. Even though you can't stay with us in body you will always stay with us in spirit.

I must give my thanks to the Priest though who spoke about you and your capacity to love in such a way that he moved me to tears. His comparison of 1 Corinthians 13 (Love) with what you did was lovely, really capturing the essence of you, as did the prayers he chose to recite as well. I didn't realise that anyone could capture the essence of you but somehow he managed it beautifully.

I must also give my thanks to Sarah who read your poem. I have no idea how she managed to stay so composed throughout it while I wobbled as your poem struck definite chords with me. As a result I have now been sharing your poem, one of your lasting legacies, with others because I know they will find it as beautiful as I did. On that note, here is the poem in question:

Who Are My Friends?
Who are my friends?
These gems against a dark sky!
My chosen, my found, my beloved,
This is why!
They are the people who do not sleepwalk through their lives.
Though each be as different from each other as jam and chives,
This is the link,
They are the people who stop and think!
Who don’t do what is done,
Because it’s done and always has been.
They are the people who have seen,
That the middle of the herd,
Isn’t where they want to be.
They use their own judgement,
They have their own passions,
They are free!
My friends are the people who accepted me,
When the sleepwalkers found me strange.
They have lit my life with joy,
And taught me how to be
Most truly myself.
I have been beyond fortunate,
To find the people,
Who could let me be who I am,
When I couldn’t act a sham.
Who are individual enough themselves,
To befriend someone out of the norm,
And never turn and tell me I should conform.
Without them I would have been utterly lost.
They are strong and witty and wise and kind,
They have the courage to live with their eyes open.
In their own way each one is a shining star,
And I want my friends to know,
What very special people they are.

Valerie Higgins


I may well frame that and put that on my wall in the New Year so as to always remind me the importance of friendship. One of the most important things in life and one that we often seem to underestimate: friendship. You know though valdary friendship is what I take from you and what I will always remember. When the Priest asked us to recall a memory of you I thought immediately of Twitter but in particular the last tweet you sent me. The last tweet you sent anyone. Your last ever tweet was to me. I find this both touching and saddening all at once and yet on another level it is strangely amusing. That last tweet was about a basket of fruit at a Christmas Fayre. A carefree tweet, removed from any physical pain and anguish, the carefree soul I knew. How lovely that your last tweet should be something so trivial, so carefree despite everything. A soul embodied in 140 characters.

You were taken from us far too soon but you have gone on to be in a better place now. You are free from the constraints of human life and can now live the perfect life you deserve. We will always miss your physical presence even though we know that somewhere up there you are loving it. Loving it and laughing at us, especially those of us who managed to get lost on the way to your funeral. Not content with getting lost once we ended up getting lost twice. So much for us looking organised and prepared! As it was it turned out to be a fitting start to a fitting service for you and we got to see some more of your beautiful county of Shropshire.

Goodbye valdary. Gone but never forgotten. x

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