My Friend…

This is the piece I wrote for my friend’s memorial… many people have asked me to share this and others were not there to hear it… so this is my tribute to a dear friend…

It has been just over three months since Valeria left this world… It still seems that it just can’t be real….She was a force… ask anyone… she was someone with a vision and she lived her life with voracity.. Making the most of each moment, each encounter, each opportunity and each and every person she touched, she lived her life (short as it was) to it’s fullest.  To me she was one of my closest friends, I met her almost 24 years ago, through dance.  We were partners in mothering, dance, cycling, and love.  When I look at all the people who surrounded her during her illness, I realized that each one of us felt that SHE was our closest friend.  When you were with Valeria, she was totally there (of course if there were other Brazilians in the house you may have wondered what the discussion was about… but except for that – she was with you). She made time for the people who were important to her – celebrating birthdays, holidays, being there for sick friends, and there for the birth of more than one.  She made you feel her love – she was the first person to call me ‘friend’ as an endearment … and when I call others ‘friend’ it is from the heart, with her in mind, and I hope those people know that I didn’t just forget their names… It means something special…


Saying ‘no’ to Valeria was not easy.  Her ideas would start out small, and once she thought you were on board, they seemed to grow exponentially!  She pushed herself and she pushed everyone around her.  For me personally, she made my childhood dream of being a professional dancer come true.  Up on stage at the Hult center she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.  Those times together, on stage, in a dressing room, and in rehearsal, with her jumping on my back or asking me if I could stand on my hands, pick her up, or roll around until my spine was bruised… they are priceless… She would ask me to do things I didn’t think I could do… but I could, and she knew it because she believed in me… that’s how she was, she believed in all of us.


I remember, years ago, someone asked if we were sisters… and in a way we were. We have similar pictures from when we were young… standing in front of our houses half a world apart, in costume, ready for a performance.  She was at every party and important event in my adult life.  When certain things happened over the years, she was the person I would want to tell… early this summer one of those things happened and my first thought was that I wanted to tell her because she would join me in my joy.  Encouraging is not the right word… Valeria celebrated with you, she felt your joy.


Don’t get me wrong… she was not easy, she was fiery… she got mad at people… not just a little mad but fiery mad.  She might not talk to you for a day, a week or even more… but something would always happen and it would sort itself out.  I can’t remember a time when she was angry with me except once.  It was my birthday and we met for a ride.  She didn’t say anything and pretty soon into our 50 mile ride, I realized that she had forgotten it was my birthday… I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t say anything… when she later found out she was so mad at me for not telling her it was my birthday (I never made that mistake again).  But her fiery personality was also what made her so compelling.  Valeria was the kind of person you just wanted to be around… you would go for a quick visit and six hours later you were trying to say goodbye.  


Summer was her time… days on the river, floating, swimming, dinners on the deck with pizza and this amazing peach sangria, evening movies with popcorn, wine and incredible desserts.  Valeria was summer to me and this is my/our first summer without her… I think of her every day… people say that time will make things better – but when someone leaves a hole this big… it is hard to imagine that it will ever be better.


I was lucky, and those of you who were close to her were lucky, too… she was a vibrant, shining star… a gem of a friend and someone totally devoted to her family. On our rides together she would tell me about Cami and Lucas, their struggles and successes… her hopes for their futures and all they were doing.  She was the proudest mother!  She was a bright light in an often dull world…and she would go to the end of the Earth to help someone in need.  I live my life differently for having known her and being with her through her journey..


Life will go on, we will laugh, cry, tell crazy stories and even dance… but it will never be the same… she was the welcoming smile, the invitation to join in, the driving force, and the creative sparkle in any circumstance…. that hole will never be filled… but it will be honored…
She loved deeply, and in turn was loved by us all.  I believe that she is continuing to be my friend through this life… just not in the same way.

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