A big Thank You to all of you who came to give your love and support to help send off our beautiful precious Poppy yesterday. It was lovely to see so many people at the service and then later at our house. It gave us strength. So many young people, brave and strong, shedding tears for our darling girl. Thank You.
And also a big thank to all the generosity shown through donations. We are now up to £700, so thank you very much. Poppy would be very pleased and excited.
Thank you to all the speakers at yesterday’s service. Manon Palm, you were very moving and loving, Poppy adored you. My dear friend, Colin Johnson, thank you for everything you have done for us and for speaking my words. Michelle Potter for your bravery and particularly for beautiful Addie and her wonderful poem, which I am reproducing here:
Poem, written and read by Addie Brady at Poppy’s service 12th March 2013
T11 North UCLH we became good mates
Sasha,Tom,Thomas,Shania, Joni Mai,
Sinead,Elin and Owen too, to name a few
Were all good friends to me and to you
Playing games, fun times and laughter
Not so much for the medicine after
It hurt sometimes and made us sleep
But Poppy, I never ever saw you weep
Poppy, you were my best friend
I always hoped you’d heal and mend
But I came home from school one day
To hear the news you’d passed away
Poppy you never seemed to complain
And now you are free from any pain
Sadness and sorrow fill my heart
Because we are now so far apart
Poppy, you’ll always be my best friend
I just don’t see this as the end
I’ll think of you each passing day
There’s not much more I have to say
I’ll miss you Poppy and will never forget
Our friendship wasn’t finished yet
I’ll miss you and our times to together
We’ll always be Best Friends Forever
Eulogy by Philip Teare, read by Colin Johnson at Poppy’s service 12th March 2013
Darling Poppy, sweet beautiful girl,
How I miss you, miss you as I knew I would, with absolute sorrow. But at least you are no longer fearful nor in pain. This is the only comfort I can take through my tears.
You have always been a strong character, when you were born you would not open your eyes. Mummy noticed the midwife fussing and she became hysterical saying something was wrong. I was convinced that you had been born without eyes. True to form, you would not be rushed, then after 3 days you were ready to take a look at the world revealing the most beautiful pair of dazzling blue eyes. In those first few days you did not have a name. Then one morning I drew open the curtains and noticed the bright red Field Poppies swaying and dancing in the streaming sunshine. At that moment I just thought ‘Poppy’. When Cosmo and I went to visit you and Mummy, we came armed with fresh cut poppies. We immediately agreed upon your name, and from that moment on you carried the grand name of Poppy Ernestine Dorothy Teare.
You were such a quirky and creative toddler and when you came to hold a pen I was surprised that you were not left handed as you did things differently right from the start. You have always been artistic and one of life’s originals. As a toddler you dressed in vivid colours and you became familiar with me looking down at you through a camera lens. This was a ritual exchange between us, an act of love we both shared. One of my favourite portraits is of you aged 3 holding Cosmo’s hand, he dressed in only swimming trunks with a large white bandage taped to his forehead. Both of you are looking defiantly into the lens, you sporting an aggressive pout, looking so strong particularly for one so tiny. I treasured this picture keeping it in a little rubber frame by my bedside. When several years later I found myself living in reduced circumstances in a house-share trying to rebuild my life, I used to stare at that picture before going to sleep and I realised that you two beautiful souls had stood by me unconditionally despite my failings. At that moment I promised myself that I would never let you down again and that I would stand close to you until the end of the earth.
As a June baby, you have a natural affinity with the outdoors and nature. You’ve always loved swimming in Lidos and we’ve spent many happy summers splashing around, diving under blue skies or rolling clouds alike, a favourite being swimming amongst the giant bubbles made by falling summer raindrops. Inevitably I’d be asked to swim lengths with you riding on my back as if The Queen of Atlantis. How you’d love to buy slush puppies, chips or sweeties from the tuck shop. And when we’d go abroad, we could only afford to camp, but you didn’t mind. We’d take the ferry across the sea and pitch our tent right next to the port. We’d watch the sunsetting across The Channel and see England shimmer in the twilight, and at night I’d take you to the toilets and see the funnels from the ferries belching out black plumes of smoke in the moonlight as they waited to sail back to Dover. Early each morning we’d go for a walk along the wide sandy beach to the dunes with you skipping along and asking me constant questions. You’d come with me to buy fresh mussels from the quayside or to the market to buy grilled chickens or Vietnamese spring rolls with chili and soy sauce from that man with the sweet smile. You just loved doing things, taking in life and enjoying the sounds, smells and colours of the world. Oh Poppy, how I love you.
You loved parties of any kind. One year at Halloween before you were ill, Caroline and I had a cocktail party. You amused our guests by wearing a scarey clown mask whilst doing some amazing choreographed dancing to the music. When I asked you how you’d become such a fantastic dancer, and learned those moves, you told me “mummy’s ill in bed so much, I have to amuse myself, so I go in my room and make up dances”. That broke my heart, but was so typical of you, never complaining always finding something creative and beautiful to make despite the heartbreaking circumstances.
And when you became ill yourself, you had the same brave attitude. Before chemo we’d go out to eat in a restaurant which I believe helped you process the chemical onslaught which was to follow. I was always so proud to be with you, my brave little darling. Then with the chemo you’d be lost to the sickness and the drugs that would make you drift in and out of sleep for days on end. After 2 months of your chemotherapy Mummy died. We were in UCH for your treatment and having taken the call, I was waiting in the room with Cosmo for you to return so I could break the tragic news. As I began to tell you and my voice cracked with emotion, you put your arms around me and said “don’t worry Daddy, it’s alright”. You were trying to protect me and that was so typical of you, my beautiful girl.
And when it was time for your operation 7 months later you faced it with very little fear. I told you I hoped we might get out of hospital in a month or so, but never told you this was if everything went perfectly. When Colin the surgeon came to our room at 8:00am you were brave and when at 8:30 you went out with laughing gas, I returned to the room to collect myself before driving back to Hertfordshire and putting my faith in your strength and the wonderful team. I knew if nobody phoned then all was well so didn’t worry when I went to bed at midnight with no word. My phone rang at 2:30am, it was Colin calling from theatre telling me all had gone well and they were finishing up. I slept and awoke with a calm I had not felt for a great many months. When I walked in to Intensive Care and saw you lying there looking so tranquil and beautiful, the natural shape of your face having been returned by the surgeons, I saw my beautiful darling girl had come back to resume her life. Your hair so short, your eyes closed revealing your incredible thick long lashes, you looked so serene like Joan from Carl Dreyer’s ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’. Of course, you were wired up to hundreds of drains and tubes, covered in stitches and grafts, but all I could see was your magnificent heroic beauty. I felt so calm and happy inside.
One morning during your recovery, a hospital cleaner whom we always smiled at, came to clean the room. He began telling me how special you were. How he had been watching us for months and how he noticed that you always put a smile on everyone’s face who came into contact with you. How you were the one who always made people happy and what an amazing presence you had. I was very touched by this and the effect this had had on him. Your effect on people was remarkable, such a skill that cannot be learned. Combined with your amazing creative energy, it would have brought you great rewards. You had no idea of just how wonderful and special you were.
When I drove you home after 4 weeks it was such a triumph. The next day I went to Cross Road to pick up your cat Trinnie to complete our family, and we released her in the little front room which was full of upended boxes. We sat on the floor calling her name and soothing her until she stopped miaowing and came to be stroked. That made us so happy, just to be with our cat, free from hospital at last, and Trinnie no longer alone but reunited with us all. For some reason we would often discuss this simple happiness in recent weeks, perhaps because Trinnie was always by your side as your health began to dwindle. You were so loved Poppy, even animals treated you as very special.
But our quest to get back to a ‘normal life’ was all too short lived, and when a scan showed alarming shadows and it was made clear that they could not operate, we faced a summer of ‘making memories’. Little Darling, however my heart was breaking inside, we had day after day of being together and going on little adventures. A summer of driving through the countryside, to destinations like Welwyn, St Albans, Hatfield or Hertford. Knocking about in your favourite charity shops in Ware, buying knitting needles, or Brats Dolls with oversized heads, or a pink sewing machine to make bunting from John Lewis prints inspired by our Jubilee weekend trip to Westcliffe. We had a summer of enjoying the fields, spotting wild poppies or your particular obsession of spying hidden gypsy camps and speculating as to who or what was inside. One week you’d be a Boat Captain, daily piloting a motorboat up The River Lea, the next you’d become a chicken obsessive, sampling the menus in Nandos in Hatfield and Harlow and sending out little Instagrams of your plates of chicken and spicey rice to your followers. During the Olympics we made hot lemon meringue pies and you painted the torch, made Olympic rings from coloured paper which were proudly displayed in an upstairs bathroom window and collected little figures of Wenlock and Mandeville, the Olympic mascots. We saw the Olympic torch procession as it passed the road in which my dear father was born and two weeks later we spent the day in The Olympic Park, with tickets for synchro swimming and watching Usain Bolt win another Gold on the giant screen as darkness fell. You were dressed in typical Poppy fashion, Team GB shorts, long socks to cover your scars, Jack Wills yellow boating shoes, an Olympic t-shirt colour co-ordinated with your shorts and buff, giant mad Piña Colada shades and a giant gold medal around your neck. You looked like a 21st Century Flava Flav, ever eccentric and ever full of life, my beautiful brave darling girl, always experiencing life to the full and making everyone proud to be with you. Sweet Darling, how I miss you, how I love you, how I just want to hold you tight and tell you everything is going to be alright.
But I can’t and it’s not. The world is empty without you, Sweet Poppy, love of my life. You were so loved and adored by us all, with such a great spirit and straight forward honest character. You were so funny to be with, how I miss holding your hand and kissing your head as I would do, one hundred times everyday.
I’m not sure what we’ll do without you, especially Cosmo and I, but I’ll seek out your spirit when I’m looking at clouds, enjoying the refraction of the sun’s rays in cool blue swimming pools, when I’m sucking on a ‘Twister’ lolly or listening to birds chirping in bushes. I’m going to keep planting wild poppies in wild places so that strangers are touched fleetingly by the wild beauty of a speckle of colour as they pass. And I will be reminded forever of the most beautiful person to have touched my life of whom I’m so so proud to call my wonderful daughter. Sweet Darling Poppy. Goodbye, Sweet Dreams, Stay Close, I Love You.