I no longer remember the days when I didn’t know you, Valerie. When I look back prior to 2003, I have to remind myself that, right, I didn’t know you back then. You grew so seamlessly into my life that I can’t imagine what I’d be like if I’d never met you. I’d be a lesser person though, for certain, one who tended to see life in terms of what couldn’t be done instead of all that is possible. But lucky for me, I did meet you.
You were such a giver. You gave freely of so much to so many people. You gave your time and expertise, your organizational tips. You gave fashion advice, pep talks, purse-buying strategies, and child rearing help. You gave great movie reviews, fun articles to read, and shopping bargains. Simply put, you gave yourself to others, and we loved you for it. You had the ability to make each person in your life feel uniquely, singularly special, like you had all the time in the world just for them. You were such a strong quiet force of calm, you drew people to you. As a former boss of ours said about two weeks after you started, “Thank God for Valerie. If the building were on fire, she’d just go over to team, calmly tell them all to pick up their bags and walk them to the door.”
Although you seemed quiet to some, you were also a defender of the authentic, a champion for getting others what they needed, and the voice of those who had less. You once told me you were a people collector, that people fell into your life and you tended to hang on to them. Judging by the number of us who mourn your loss, that is truer than I ever realized at the time.
My friend, you taught me how to love life, to find fresh happiness and, most importantly, to believe in and pursue your dreams. And you are still teaching me — to appreciate every moment and every dear person in your life, because you simply don’t know how long you will be graced with that person’s presence. You always told me you liked to be prepared, so then you would know what to expect. Although we all would have expected we’d miss dearly you when you left, none of us was prepared to lose you so soon. Ram Das (American spiritual teacher and author) thought that when all was said and done, we’re all just walking each other home. So I hope you rest well, my dear friend. I’m glad you’re home, and I’m so glad I had the chance to walk with you.
Valerie died Sept. 8, 2015.