2 years ago today we said our final goodbyes to Emily, there are things in life you know you will have to experience, one being a funeral as horrible as it is. Did I ever expect the first funeral id go to would be my 18 year old sister’s?….. um no I did not.
maybe it's something you think about when you're old, I don’t know I’m only 19, but I never thought I’’d be saying goodbye to my sister for the last time duing my A levels. So much we had planned is nothing more than a dream now, it’ll never be anything more than a dream. We may not have been twins but that’s what it felt like we were. Way more than sisters. When I think about the future, the important things, significant times in my future without her, i genuinely get a physical pain in my heart, only those who have lost someone extremely close to them will understand, but it hurts. With Friends it’s different, you never know what future you and a friend will have you may drift apart from plans you’ve made but a sister will always always be there.. well that’s what I thought anyway. I love my little sister she is my world but it isn’t the same, she is 11 years younger than me, we’ve gone through things in our lives at different times and thats how it always will be. me and Emily were going to share that together, having that ripped apart is something I will never be able to let go of, and knowing that I have the next 60, 70, even 80 years ahead of me always feeling that is terrifying.
I’ve been to funerals since Emily's, but when the first funeral you go to has hundreds and hundreds of people, with cameras outside the church, any experience of a funeral after that is going to be completely different.
The amount of people that came was astonishing. Some people never even knew Emily, they just read her blog weekly and wanted to come to her funeral. The crematorium was full, people had to watch from a screen outside. It wasn’t until her funeral that I really saw the amazing effect she had on others, I always knew she was blogging and reaching out to teenagers with cancer but not until then did I really see the full extent of her amazing achievements. My school was even closed for the afternoon because so many teachers and sixth formers wanted to attend. Being 17 you never expect to be having conversations about funerals with your friends.
When something so shocking and difficult happens in your life, like your sister dying, you focus on the smallest achievements like getting out of bed in the morning not what im wearing to my sister’s funeral. Yes, people asked me that, “Hol, so what you wearing to the funeral” as if we were going to a party or something. But then some people are fortunate enough that ‘what do I wear’ is their biggest priority in life, lucky them.
I distinctively remember arriving at the church behind Emily, and seeing paparazzi style cameras on the road opposite, we knew as Emily’s death was on itv and the funeral date was in the newspapers that her funeral probably would have been publicised, she inspired so many but that was on a new level id not seen, people with such lack of disrespect, not discreet at all, then I remember my mum getting out the car and shouting at them to leave, difficult enough day, we shouldn’t have had to worry about that too.
It’s the little things I remember about that day, we had Emily’s prom shoes sit on top of her coffin, ‘for good’ from wicked played as we walked into the crem, at Evan’s request one of the hymns we had was the welsh song ‘calon lân’ yes its a funeral, but I know Emily would have been watching down laughing at hundreds of people attempting the sing calon lân with not welsh speakers in the room… except my 6 year old sister who knew it off by heart. Even my little sister came, we was in another room but she was there with us in a beautiful little black dress. It doesn’t seem right a 6 year old going to a funeral, but she had to, everyone we knew friends and family were at the funeral.
It doesn’t seem right to say but I know no matter what will happen in my life now, no loss will be as bad as losing Emily. I feel so guilty for not feeling more upset or grieving about other deaths but once you’ve lost your teenage sister, no feeling will ever amount to it, not even a fraction of that pain is the same.
At the end of the funeral, Everyone was asked to take a button, very simply a button, with the hope that taking a button would be their motivation and promise to 1. Remember Emily, and 2. Do something!! That could make a change in Emily’s memory, whether it be raise money, Raise awareness, Spread the word about Emily’s story.
Why buttons you may ask? Well Emily loved collecting buttons, she made bracelets out of them, replaced buttons on items of clothing for fancy ones she collected, when we looked through her room after she died, and found thousands and thousands of buttons.
‘Like Buttons, Emily holds us together’