You only have to skim a couple of pages into any daily paper to read a story of someone young passing away, far before their time and usually in tragic circumstances. Certainly, over the years, I have been exposed to hundreds and every one has prompted a sad wave of empathy, accompanied by a cautionary note to self as the subtext of the tale intrudes into our own lives - for a moment, an unwelcome reminder of our own mortality.
In these circumstances the mind quickly, subconsciously and expediently rationalises the danger and our fragility away; of course it is terrible, but it really would never actually happen to us, and by such tricks, it keeps us sane. 
This time, it was different. 
Alison and I were staying in a hotel in Kent for an Easter break and it was during dinner that I had the phone call. And then I had to tell Alison.
That night, the 60 mile drive, the police, the coroner, the shock, the adrenaline, the disbelief that was the only barrier against the torrential and surging waves of pain. Nothing can ever prepare you: I was not removed from the tragedy, the horror, the suffocating helplessness while the people you love are being ripped apart before your eyes - I could not turn the page, I could not turn it off, I could not rationalise it. I struggled terribly to cope with the enormity of what happened; what was happening in front of me, and I still do.

Emily was one of the most kind and caring people I have ever known. She welcomed me in to her family and over the last 7 years, we shared some fantastic times together which have not only left me with treasured memories but also, in her absence, a desire to carry on something of the legacy of Emily's goodness in my own life.
The view for most
One of my favourite memories is captured in the two middle pictures above which are of Emily at the Warriors of Dance Festival 24th July 2010.
Our group had spent all afternoon listening to bands at the Milton Keynes Bowl and The Prodigy were about to come on as headliners. To get to the front of the stage required a VIP pass which none of us possessed and so we would be with the majority of the 60,000 people, held back 150 yards from the mainstage. It was a pretty rowdy festival crowd and Emily did not want to be in the middle of it and so I said I would stay back with her and we could see it from the side of the bowl. 
But for the lucky few...
As we trotted off up the hill, I realised I had not drunk any water for 6 hours, so we wandered off to find a tap which was signposted stage-left and as we walked up to the sign a security guard beckoned us through a gate which we thought was for the water. We were busy talking, and so you can imagine our surprise when instead of a tap, we looked up and found ourselves in the VIP area, 10 feet from the main stage.
Emily was just so, so, very, very excited; and when she was excited (as she often was), she radiated infectious excitement times a million.
The Prodigy were simply outstanding and it went down in the annals as best gig ever. Sadly, I did not get to the tap and due to dehydration, my heartrate was above 110 for 4 hours after the gig, but it was worth it.
This is just one story, and in turn, I am only one of so many people who can tell you how life-affirming and amazing Emily was. I will always, always miss her.

Back in 2006, Alison and I decided to run the 2007 London Marathon as a means to get fit and also as a personal challenge; neither of us had run much before and it was an amazing journey, one in which many kind people sponsored us, helping raise over £4,500 which was split between the great charities Whizz Kidz and the Children's Trust in Tadworth.
At this point, I said that I would not run for charity again, but went on to run London again through ballot entry in 2010. The pictures which book end the top of the page are the two years respectively.
On both occasions, Sue, David and Emily came over to support me and provide me with cake at the finish, which at the time I was in no fit state to appreciate, but their effort always meant a great deal.
In 2010, I missed the man-affirming, macho-sub-4 hours by 5 minutes: London and I had unfinished business; but no more.
I hope those of you who so kindly donated in 2007 have forgiven my reneging on my never-again promise and thank you very much for so generously reaching in to your pockets once more for Alison and I.
London 2013 was personal; this one was for Mini x

No comments: