The fondest farewells linger long in the memory of those who are present. Freddie Kemp was a dear friend to me and many others, and well-known locally as somebody who would not let anything get in his way. He passed away suddenly on the 27th of November, which explains the radio silence here. The world has not been quite the same since he left.
Friends and family gathered on Friday to celebrate his life at a local community centre. We laughed at memories, and some shed tears. I hadn’t intended to read anything at the service, but wrote a poem on the Wednesday. After a last-minute conversation with relatives, I secured permission to read the piece, which I will present here.
I have performed on stage and at open mic nights, but standing in front of that audience on Friday was the hardest moment of my life to date. All of my performance technique went out of the window after the first few lines, and I found myself addressing the family more than anyone else present. The reading passed in a blur, as I attempted to remind myself not to look to my right. By the end of it, I was pleased…I’d done my bit for my friend.
Many people came up to me after the formal part of the ceremony to say how much they enjoyed the piece. I simply said what I felt, and still feel at the moment. This loss is no doubt going to take a while to sink in. Even when you are aware that it will happen, as we were, it is still a shock.
I have never known anybody, and doubt I will again, who lived life the way Fred did. He truly lived every moment, and was an absolute inspiration to all who crossed paths with him. This is my ‘unintended eulogy’ for our dear friend.
One Day Soon
One day, soon
I will pick up my pen
Poise fingers over keyboard
And the words will flow
I will find a way to express
The depth of this pain
The paradoxical grief
For he is not ‘gone’, he is free
Except for this: freedom, in the early days
Feels a lot like absence
Not quite ready to accept
That this was the only way
He would ever be free
I should have said more
Taken more time, spent more time
Now there is nothing but time
But it is time without him
Time without the one who made us laugh
Who inspired us to be more than we might otherwise have been
Demonstrated the real meaning of rising above
To become ten times the person any of us could ever hope to be
One day soon, I will find the words
To show how much I loved him
To speak of the depth of the loss
To celebrate, rather than mourn…
One day, soon.
‘The greatest gifts in life are friends and memories’, so hug yours, and share them. We never know when it will be too late.
Casey, a beautiful poem and story about reading it and the hard circumstances. I’m sure you gave everyone there a gift. You gave me one,
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Thank you, Elaine.
I am pleased that you enjoyed the poem. I am still learning to ‘dance with the limp’, as Anne Lamott might put it, although the wound is fresh.
I look forward to connecting with you elsewhere.