On July 17, 2021, from noon until 7 pm, on a very warm and often overcast day in Westchester, NY, friends and family gathered to celebrate the life of Emily Garnett. Some of you who are reading this post knew her or knew of her, others maybe not. When I went back to my list of blog posts to find some of the words that I’d written about her, I found that there were quite a few posts that mentioned her, that referenced things she’d done or said, showed the things we did together. You can read more if you want, I’ve linked my favorites here: FOMO; 2019 Stampede and MetUp Die In; When a Friend is Dying; Love and Grief, Grief and Love; Collective Grief; IV Our Lives; Metastatic Parenthood. There are probably more that I’ve forgotten, but it was good to reminisce, to relive some of those precious times.
It’s a little astonishing to me to realize that we only met in person one time in October of 2019 in Washington, DC and it wasn’t long after that time that she died. Emily gave us all a window into the changes that happen when one is slowly dying or declining with MBC. She had a way with words and a quirky sense of humor that came through in everything she did or said. She was also a friend to so many.
I was honored to be part of Emily’s life, in only a small part of her expansive life, because her life was so much more than just MBC and all that came because of our shared illness. Watching the people at her celebration of life and the pictures in the slide show brought that home for me. Her life and her legacy live on in ways that I’d never seen or realized.
I’ve typed out the eulogy I gave for her below and the poem I’d meant to read but totally forgot because it was on the next page of my notebook. It was more difficult to keep my composure as I spoke than I’d anticipated and I am glad that I didn’t just “wing it” as I often do. Below the poem and eulogy are some pictures of Emily and some wisdom she shared. Stupid awful fucking cancer, I miss this woman so much.
Eulogy for Emily
“For the most part, we present a carefully curated version of ourselves to the world, especially on social media. We take pictures from the best angles and filter out what we don’t want others to see. It takes a uniquely brave and confident person to really let others in, to put our true selves “out there.”
Emily did that.
She also made it look effortless, even though it wasn’t. She was so open and generous with herself, both privately and publicly and that changed the lives of everyone she touched.
One story that comes to mind that exemplifies this part of Emily was the story of the person she met while taking the bar exam. She made a friend who then posted about her memories of Emily on her FB wall when she died. That was Emily, making friends wherever she went.
From all of you, her family and friends, before cancer …
To the members of her support group at Sloan Kettering, several of whom are here today …
To the readers of her blog, Beyond the Pink Ribbon, from all over the world …
To the guests and listeners of her podcast, “The Intersection of Cancer and Life,” also from all over the world …
To the people she gathered together from the force of her magnetic personality …
To her hard work on the play, IV Our Lives …
To her writing published on a huge variety of websites …
To all the people who voted for the 2019 WEGO Rookie of the Year.
If all of these people she touched here gathered with us today, we would fill this park even more than we already are.
Emily filled each room she entered
She didn’t hold anything back.
Emily was vulnerable, honest and fierce.
She was wicked funny, her own brand of sarcasm and swearing (but I won’t use those words now because there are children present).
Emily wrote clearly, concisely, and with clarity.
She had a sharp, sparkling voice
Emily’s laugh was infectious.
She gave amazing hugs.
Emily gave 100% of herself, 100% of the time.
She burned bright during the time she was here.
Emily didn’t just visit this world, she changed and shaped it.
Emily lives on in each of us — so long as we continue to speak her name, to honor her memory and carry on her missions — to see MBC eradicated and to ensure that no one faces such a serious illness alone, she will never truly die.
This isn’t goodbye — this is just “until we see you again, Emily.””
As One, by Samantha Hann
It’s ok to miss you
It’s ok to cry
Just know that I’ll never forget you
This isn’t a permanent goodbye
Sometimes I sit and wonder
If you are standing by my side
Giving me the courage
To carry on with pride
I’ll hold onto our memories
Until this life is done
In my heart is where I’ll store them
Where we can be as one.https://familyfriendpoems.com/poem/90850