So yesterday was Dee’s funeral. It was a beautiful sunny day and was a poignant celebration of her life. The casket Dionne was laid to rest in was utterly beautiful, it was made from wicker and someone had weaved Ivy leaves into the side…on the top of her coffin were flowers from her family and myself- white lilies interspersed with purple flowers..I don’t know what they were but I’m pretty sure she would have approved. I went to say good-bye to Dee the night before..it’s always difficult to see someone who has died but I would say to anyone questioning whether they should or not, DO IT, and for this reason: You never realise what a spirit is until you see someone who has departed. It’s difficult to define, but that vital spark that made them who they were disappears when they die, and once it’s gone you realise that bodies are mere shells that carry us around.
I laid a miniature bottle of Baileys in her coffin, as she loved that stuff, and also some of her favourite incense-’Nag Champa’. I also put some Tarot cards in there, and a Bagpuss necklace- both were gifts from another friend, Liz. The Tarot cards are significant as we all attended the same Tarot course, and I’m not kidding when I say that Dee has practically every deck ever invented.It was only right she should take some with her. She was dressed in her fave Monsoon top and her purple crocs- we’re crocs addicts and it cheers me a little to think of her wearing her purple crocs in death, just as in life. Lots of people say when they see someone who has passed that they looked asleep, and Dee did exactly look like she was. For me that was hard, because I really did expect her eyes to flutter open any second. I talked to her and cried and said my final good-byes, but like I said previously Dee wasn’t in that room really.
Her funeral was held in her village community centre, and although I’d been holding up relatively well I lost it big style when I saw her coffin begin its final journey. In the hall were her favourite things to symbolise her, including her beautiful Celtic harp that she’d only recently bought and was learning to play. She was carried in to the beautiful ‘Pachelbels Canon’ which she had recorded in her ‘Death Book’ as being the tune she would have liked to walk down the aisle to. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Her service, being Humanist, was very much a celebration of her life and included tales from her childhood and youth, suffice to say she was an ickle bugger…tee hee.
Before she passed we’d discussed my speaking at her funeral and even though there was a huge turnout I can honestly say that I wasn’t intimidated by the occasion at all. I was determined to speak my bit and get through it for my friend. This is what I said:
I am so blessed to have Dionne call me friend. We met almost ten years ago on ‘Spirit of Nature’, a Pagan website that Dee managed. It was an enormous success, and chatting to Dee I discovered a kindred spirit and was delighted when I discovered that she lived a ten minute drive from me. It was as though we were destined to be friends. The website eventually closed, but our real life adventures had only just begun..I have many happy memories, in particular of nights out in Chesterfield followed by a late night curry and a sleepover at mine..a hangover is much easier to handle if there is more than one of you to share it.
The Internet that had led to our initial meeting became a huge comfort to her and enabled her to socialise without leaving her home. She became a regular poster on the MG Forums and she loved attending meetings where she could finally be with the people she had met on line, in particular her boyfriend James. She was also a regular poster to the Breast Cancer Forums where her battle inspired fellow sufferers from all corners of the world, and her blog, ‘Dee’s Journey’ documented her daily struggle in a sometimes poignant, but often humorous manner. Her website will remain on line as a testament to Dee and I hope it will continue to inspire people who find themselves in a similar situation.
Last year I introduced her to ‘Second Life’, an Internet world where you can do literally anything, and she thrived there. In world we would go out to the pub, dance the night away at parties and in particular go shopping, In Second Life, as much as real life, Dee loved her shopping, and we spent many happy hours together exploring. It’s wonderful to note that Dee made firm friends in the virtual as well as the real world and all who met her saw her as a source of inspiration, love and laughter. She won’t ever be forgotten in real life or in second.
Dee was very strong right up until the end, some would say stubborn even, and I cannot describe adequately here how proud I am of her for the way she fought the cancer that eventually claimed her life. I recall the first chemotherapy session that she ever had, I went with her to keep her spirits up but she was cool and calm all the way through, which is more than can be said for myself. She accepted the enormity of what was happening to her with grace and seemed to take it all in her stride. She tried her best not to let it interfere with her plans, and when it did she adapted to it with minimal fuss.
Dionne, you were the most inspirational person I have ever encountered and I am a better person for having known you in my life..I love you and I shall carry you with me in my heart always.
Needless to say I stumbled a bit over the last sentence…
With the main funeral over it was time for committal, and we drove the short journey behind the hearse towards the cemetery. It is a small, recently opened space with just a handful of graves, and is surrounded by trees and fields. It’s peaceful, tranquil and the perfect place to lay her down to rest. Making our way to the side of the grave, a few formal words were said and then I read the following poem, one from the back of Dee’s special book that she had chosen…
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not for long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that once we shared
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It’s all part of the master plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go the friends we know.
Laugh at all the things we used to do
Miss me, but let me go.
Afterwards she was gently lowered into the grave, and six beautiful pearly white doves were released. I have to be frank and say I really did lose it here..the act of watching the body of your loved one being lowered into the ground is so utterly heart-wrenching..Thank goodness Jez was with me because I clung like a limpet onto him and sobbed and slobbered all over his suit. Finally, from a basket of flowers and pine cones I scooped a handful of flowers and scattered them over her coffin..and walked away.
Having never been through anything like this before I can honestly say that it is the most painful experience I have ever had. People have asked how I’m coping and if I am honest I don’t think it hit me properly until yesterday, as I was so busy being occupied with thoughts of her family, and how best I could help. I’m exhausted, not sleeping properly and I’m sat here at my desk utterly drained, with eyeballs that are screaming out for me to remove them and run them under the cold tap. I miss her dreadfully, it feels like an ache that will not go away..I keep looking at the telephone and knowing that I can’t ring her up for a giggle and a gossip is a very depressing thought. I’m also very cross..I’m cross at the cancer that took the life of my friend, I’m cross at some of the medical decisions that were made during her treatment, I’m cross that at such a young age she was having to plan her own ruddy funeral and selfishly I’m cross because I’ve lost the one person that I could talk to about absolutely everything. Dee was 32..I wanted us to get old and grey together, see each other married and be each other’s Bridesmaid. I could go on indulging myself here, but I’m not going to. Because I’ve realised that Dee was here for a reason, and that reason is a very simple one. She was here to love, and be loved, to inspire and to show us that friends and family really are the most important things in your life, not the material garbage that we’re all so bloody obsessed with. Because of Dee I will make changes in my life and I will make sure that she is remembered in any way that I can. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating..if you have someone in your life who you love, please tell them. Hold them close and let them know that you appreciate them and please look at the bigger picture..fighting over small things just isn’t important in the long run. If you haven’t spoken to a special friend/family member in a while, ring them up or e-mail them and tell them that you love them. Switch the TV/laptop off and talk to that person and touch them. Because knowing that I can never touch Dee again, hold her hand, tickle her feet or hug her leaves such an empty, heavy feeling in my heart. I can hear her voice in my head, I have hundreds of pictures, each time I spray ‘Ange ou Demon’ I can smell her..but knowing I’ll never be able to touch her again is just..well, I’m sure you get the drift.
So, I’m going to take a deep breath, stand straight and get through this with the same fighting spirit that she had. Kittywitchin will resume normal service over the weekend (You probably saw the two news items I published..I was going to do more but my heart wasn’t in it) and will be choc full of my writings, wibblings and general numptiness just like always.
But if you see me in world, please come and give me a hug..because I really like those at the mo. Thanks:)