On this day a year ago I lost my best friend to cancer, she was 19. In a future post I hope to write a tribute to Charlotte, and a piece that may help others when it comes to coping with grief and bereavement. However, today I cannot find the words. So instead, here is a transcript of the eulogy I wrote and said at Charlotte’s funeral.
When Alex asked me if I would give this tribute to Charlotte I was extremely honoured, proud and just a little bit intimidated.
Looking around Newman chapel, a place where Charlotte and I have celebrated Masses, attended assemblies and watched the occasional guest speaker, she would be both surprised and flattered that so many people have turned up today to celebrate her life.
The amount of love and support that has been shown to Charlotte has been truly overwhelming but clearly reaffirms something that her family already knows.
I have no doubt that all of you here today will agree with me when I say how much we admire Alex, Terry and Miles- handling this devastating and relentless situation with courage, dignity and above all, faith.
They are an example to us all.
What you don’t know, however, is the first time Charlotte met me, she threw a beanie hat at me. But I will come back to that later.
Despite both attending Newman, Charlotte and I never had lessons together or really knew each other at all. It wasn’t until I lost my hair to Alopecia in autumn 2014 that Charlotte and I properly crossed paths for the first time.
Struggling with this illness, I sought advice on YouTube and there I found her video on hair loss and cancer. It was so enlightening and reassuring to know that she had gone through a similar thing and come out the other side.
It left me thinking that if someone that positive and brave could cope with it alongside having cancer, then I could too.
Keen to let Charlotte know, I sent her a Facebook message- still one of my best decisions to date- and a week or so afterwards we met up for what later became known as our Starbucks dates.
In true Charlotte fashion, she threw a beanie hat at me and said ‘these are so much softer on your scalp than a wig, I didn’t go anywhere without one- so you shouldn’t either’.
That was a typical act of Charlotte’s generosity and kindness; to give someone she had never even met such a personal gift. This same generosity inspired her to start up her YouTube channel, to help other young people with cancer.
Although our friendship only spanned the last year and a half of Charlotte’s life, it was full of warmth, happiness and love and I only wish that we had become friends sooner.
Charlotte did so much to raise money and awareness for cancer, and the fact she herself had it too never came into play- she was too busy living, and did more in her 19 years than most people do in a lifetime.
We seldom talked about cancer, as she wasn’t defined by her tumours, but by what she did in spite of them. Other than the odd sarcastic comment about it (as you know, Charlotte had a wicked sense of humour), she was much too busy asking about the new eye shadow palette I’d bought or arguing with me over the ridiculousness of the Kardashians.
She was mature beyond her years in both personality and appearance. She always looked so effortlessly stylish, and so sometimes couldn’t resist raising an eyebrow at my chaotic appearance.
Such a maturity also manifested in the unique way that Char understood me. I remember on one occasion her saying to me ‘it’s worse for you, I was bald and ugly in the comfort of my own home, you had to suffer in college’.
Needless to say, she could never look ugly. She once posted the quote ‘I want someone to look at me the way I look at a Luis Vuitton bag’. And I do- she too is stylish, beautiful, individual and not something you can forget once you’ve seen or heard about it.
A lot has been said about Charlotte’s bravery and she was one of the bravest people I will ever meet, but the combination of her courage and her dark sense of humour was my favourite thing about her. For example,
For her Christmas present, I took Charlotte out to Pizza Express because she wanted to feel ‘normal’. But that is impossible because she was, and still is, extraordinary. During that lunch when I remarked ‘I can’t believe you’ve got ANOTHER Louis Vuitton handbag’ she replied
‘But they’re so beautiful AND they last a lifetime… then again a Primark bag would last my lifetime’.
I hoped, wished and prayed I would not have to attend Char’s funeral for years and years to come. But as I am here I want to say: thank you Charlotte, for being such a fantastic friend, daughter, sister and inspiration. Thank you for sharing my love of Disney, our cats and a strong belief in retail therapy.
I love you forever Charlotte, and I’ll miss you always.