Processing grief: remembering our great friend Jo
I sat down last night to write to my friend Jo who so tragically took her own life a few weeks ago.
I still can't really believe that she's gone.
Jo was a wonderful friend of mine and an important part of my life history. What happened to her has affected me deeply because of my own proximity to it all... I'm trying to process it - but it's hard.
It is her birthday today (2nd May) and also her memorial service.
I have not cried or been able to process any of it until last night when I sat down and wrote to her.
I wasn't sure about sharing it - I'm not putting it on social media, I'll just send it to a few close friends - but then I do want people to know that there was a wonderful person called Jo who touched so many lives and, above all, made us howl with laughter!
We have all been asked to take birthday cards with us today.
This is what I've written in mine.
A poem for Jo
Do you remember Jo how you came into my life?
We were both at Addington and you had your beloved Chuck there.
It was a four-year-old class for British breeding.
Life is going to move on, and no one will even remember our name.
You came to the lorry and said ‘Fuck British breeding they can all go and shag themselves!'
In response to the fact that your horse went unplaced.
That was it. Brutal honesty and a cackle of laughter!
But life is going to move on and there will come a time when no one will even remember our name.
What did you call your lorry? Was it Bluebell?
I never knew why – I just knew it was hysterical.
Like so many things you said.
You were just so outrageously funny,
The names you had for people!
Like ‘rat boy’ and the ‘Tew stick’ and oh so many others,
Your humour was infectious.
But time will move on and there will come a time when no one will even remember our name.
There were parties in Lechlade.
I remember sleeping on your blue sofa bed.
Everything was always so neat and tidy.
You never had much, but what you had, you treasured.
I loved that about you.
When I was struggling, I used to bring the horses to you in Chedworth.
The grey had a dirty stop, and I was terrified about him refusing with me.
You sorted it promptly and with no messing.
The next weekend he won Chatsworth.
He stopped with me in the show jumping warm up and I shouted at him.
I think he remembered your growl as he didn’t try it after that!
On the way home I rang you. You said:
‘You always win when you’re at rock bottom’
You were right, I did.
You helped me to get through some horrid times.
Thank you for making me smile even when all I wanted to do was cry.
But there will come a time when we will all turn to dust and no one will even remember our name.
There were the terriers, Pip and Lolly and all of their relations.
Toby and Pip were great friends.
Wise little souls they were.
Thinking of the five of us in Corner Cottage when we lived together,
Four of you up there now – I can see them following you round!
Those times in Corner Cottage were some of the happiest of my life.
We shared so much hilarity.
Like the time someone left a shoe on the neighbour’s lawn outside after leaving one of our raucous parties.
The neighbour called her Cinderella!
Or when Toby had a fit at the fireworks and puked all over the carpet and I had to drive him round the village with the music on to distract him!
Then there was the date with the army captain who sat on the loo talking to you when you were having a bath!
The way you told the story had everyone in stitches!
Trying to turn the hot tap on with your foot to resurrect the bubbles!
You described him like ‘shit stuck to a blanket in a blizzard’!
Clingy as he was!
Then he turned up the next evening at the door and we had to get rid of him!
Oh dear lord!
But life is going to move on, and no one will even remember our name.
We had a lot of parties.
We smoked a tonne of Marlboro lights and drank wine.
We talked and we loved our little cottage so much.
Those short months of 2007 were great fun and I know that you were very happy then.
It comforts me to know that you were.
We may turn to dust and no one may ever remember our name,
But I will remember for as long as I am able.
I can hear you laughing right now.
What would you have thought to me writing a poem about you?
You would probably have laughed at me.
I really can hear you laughing right now!
You were a curious mix of vulnerability and strength.
I wonder if we let you down by not understanding enough?
You came into my life like a whirlwind and now you’ve gone away, but the memories are still there and what we have loved becomes a part of us.
I will not forget.
I promise not to and that’s why I’m writing this down – so that I definitely don’t.
Working the horses with you was a hoot.
When Lurch jumped out of the school loose jumping and took the top rail out, I asked you if you should be riding him over solid fences.
You said ‘that’ll learn him!’
He was a monster of a thing, but you loved him so much!
But we will all turn to dust and there will come a time when no one will even remember our name.
Thank you, Jo, for being you.
For not apologising for being yourself.
Hold those dogs tight, be with your horses, your beautifully clipped horses.
You once said, ‘I like my men like my horses’
I said ‘What? Bald?!’
You called one of my exes ‘Phil Collins’!
H Y S T E R I C A L!
You liked gingham blinds, a checked shirt, and a suede loafer!
Oh, and a witney blanket!
But you knew your own mind and I liked that about you too.
You didn’t suffer fools gladly! I liked that too.
There are so many Jo!
You were too switched on for most people.
There are things I don’t know, and things I don’t understand, but I do know that I loved you and that you shaped my life.
You were an important part of my life history.
We may all turn to dust, and there will come a time when no one will even remember our name...
But before we all get Alzheimer’s, we will all remember our great friend Jo Geddes.
You lived and loved and cried and laughed.
You touched lives with your wit and humour and you crammed a lot in during your short years.
You really did.
You lived Jo.
You kept trying and kept pushing on, even when life dealt you a shit hand, you picked yourself up and you kept going.
You were our friend and we loved you.
I do not know how to finish this poem except to say that there will come the day when no one will even remember our name,
But for now, all who knew you will remember,
That your name was Jo Geddes.
Our friend Jo.
We loved you Jo.
Rest peacefully, and we will remember for as long as life permits.
Thank you for the memories and spark up a Marlboro light for us all! x