Because I wasn't in Helen's life at the end, I wasn't involved in the tributes to Helen at the funeral service, and this was only right and fair. Hearing Helen's friend C and her partner K talking about Helen in the service yesterday was wonderful, and when I looked around the room and saw so many people in tears, I realised how many things Helen was to so many people.
She was a partner, daughter, sister, friend, confidant, inspiration, neighbour, work mate and many more things I'm probably not even aware of.
When you're friends with someone you're aware of their friendship with you, you're aware of their family relationships, and to a lesser extent their other friends, who you might talk about with your friend. But you have no real grasp of that person's relationship with their co-workers, next door neighbours and all the other people in their life.
Seeing how Helen was SO loved by everyone yesterday was a beautiful thing. We did some reminiscing yesterday with Helen's partner K and with C, her best friend when she died, and amongst ourselves, but I wanted to say what Helen meant to ME.
|She had such wonderfully warm eyes|
Helen was so friendly. She made fast friends with everyone. It's a testament to this that I can't really remember how we actually came to be friends. I can remember who introduced us and where we met, but I can't put an exact finger on how it happened. I *think* it was because she came to stay with my friend L for a couple of days and I offered to help Helen down to the train station with her luggage, because Helen never travelled light *smiles*. I think that simple act of human kindness was enough of a spark for Helen to think I'd do as a friend *more smiles*.
Another example of Helen's warmth and friendliness was how she got to know everyone camped around us at festivals. Because K works half day Fridays, we'd have arrived at the festival on a Thursday afternoon (as generally festivals (at least the ones we went to) run Thurs-Sun or Thurs-Mon) and Helen and K would arrive on a Friday afternoon. Within an hour or two Helen knew everyone around us, who they were, what their jobs were, what their favourite bands were, who they fancied and anything else you could possibly imagine. Often, I'd wake up first thing in the morning at a festival to hear Helen's lovely sing-song Mansfield tones (she had a lovely cadence to her voice, you could tell her bubbliness from it) and pop my head out of the tent and she'd be sharing a brew with someone.
Helen was so kind, as is K. They were the perfect couple. When I had my first ectopic pregnancy, Helen took a week off work at virtually no notice to come to help look after me. 150 miles, God knows how much £££ in train fare, and all to eat junk food and sit watching tv with me for a week as I was too zombiefied to do anything else. Helen was always watching her weight too, so chowing on junk for a week was an act of solidarity and kindness for me.
Once, when we'd been to a festival in Wales and had a hideously long coach ride back, I took ill with travel nausea. I wasn't actually sick, although I'd probably have felt better if I had, as I felt so bloody wretched. I'd spent half the trip with my hoodie over my face to block out the sun, but when we pulled up at a motorway service station, Hel and K got out to buy me a 'get well' kit. They came back with a milkshake, vitamin water, a sandwich and all other kinds of stuff to make me feel better, and it worked. We offered Hel and K the money for everything, but they wouldn't take any, which is a prime example of Helen and K's generosity, which brings me onto...
Helen was amazingly generous to everyone. She was the kind of person who thought 'Leah loves make up. I know, I'll buy her a load of MAC or Urban Decay!' Her presents were legendary. Every Christmas and birthday there'd be an amazing pile of presents for me to open. I tried to match Helen in amazing gift giving but she made an art of it. Whenever she saw something she thought I'd like, she'd buy it an squirrel it away until birthday or Christmas (or sometimes, just give it as a gift at any time.) She was never showy about the presents she gave, and she never gave for the sake of giving, she just knew what everyone liked and gave the most wonderful thoughtful gifts.
At another festival we'd been to, Helen wanted to buy an Iron Maiden t-shirt as we'd just seen them. She asked me if I was getting one, and as I was having a bad month (or year, who knows!) I said no, so she asked which one I wanted and bought me one too. That was Helen all over, she just wanted people to have fun and if she could help you have a bit more fun by helping out financially, she would. If she 'lent' you money, she'd say something like 'You can pay me back, or not. I don't care!' She really meant it too. When we went to a music festival in Wales, held at a Pontins, it was very expensive by festival standards and we couldn't afford to go. Helen and Kev paid for us to go because 'We just want you to be there!'
SENSE OF FUN
Helen had a brilliant sense of fun and was great to be around. She was brilliant at freeing herself into the moment and just having the best time. She was always the one to dance or to drag the unwilling onto the dance floor, and because she'd be beaming and laughing so much you couldn't help but be drawn in and have a great time yourself. A toss of her amazing mane, a slick of red lipstick and a tight shirt to show off her God-given lady lumps and she'd be ready for an amazing night of fun.
God, I miss her.
For all the regrets I have, and there are so many, I'm so glad I had her in my life for the time that I did. Here are some quotes and music in tribute to Helen.
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love - Carl Sagan
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared - Buddha
This next quote is long but please read it. It might be of comfort to anyone who has lost a loved one.
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen. - Aaron Freeman [Source] Copyright NPR Radio 2005.