She is light.
We can see her in the scattered diamonds dancing on Eramosa river.
She is the brightest star that sends its light across universes.
Valerie is in warm sparkle of candles.
She is a roaring blaze.
She is effervescence
A daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend…there are no words that can adequately describe what Valerie meant to me.
How do you describe the way she made you feel welcomed and loved, her twinkling smile, small and big kindnesses – pure and unconditional?
She listened deeply. I will shine the bright light on you, she would say, when you were going through troubled times.
She was lit from the inside.
In what way is it possible to capture her drive, her passion, and her determination? What kind of courage does it take to leave home, barely a teenager, to follow a calling from God? What sense of justice must one have to insist on living and being with Japanese families in interment camps during the second world war? What is the source of the unshakable faith needed to agree to be a teacher (instead of the nurse she secretly hoped to become) as part of Our Ladies Missionaries, living and teaching in Japan in community for seven years. Where did she find the wherewithal to develop her retreat centre, that has and will serve as place of peace, of retreat, of serenity, and of deep reflection for so many? And where does she get this chutzpah to begin, let alone, complete a PhD with distinction in her 70s?
Photons, the measure of light, when focused is the laser that can cut through matter. This was the level of her determination. If Valerie wanted something done, boy, it was going to happen some way, somehow.
Valerie’s approach to the world– this powerful motion of possibility – is the reason we find ourselves gathered here on Gaia, her legacy, on land that was a long time ago, a dream, just a glimmer in her eye.
A sense of humour that could sometimes make a sailor blush.
Wit, sharp as a tack never missing a beat.
A mind full of wonder, always learning, always probing.
An academic, a scholar, a teacher and writer with an insatiable appetite for books and words.
A carpenter who saw life inside wood.
A pure connection to dogs – Mary poppins, Kenji, Dorthey, Oax -
A love for non-furry dogs – Us, her human friends.
Golden Girls, Three’s Company, Young and the Restless always with the commercials on mute. Opal Salad. Japanese all you can eat and Swiss chalet chicken dinners with lots of gravy.
Good conversations. Real connection.
Light is a particle. It also a wavelength. It is energy. The two natural sources – one, the sun. The other, fire. I also think Valerie’s sprit is also a natural source of energy. She had endless creativity and an uncanny ability to absorb and emit back the truth in kindness. In the way she lifted others and maintained enduring friendships. How blessed we are that her light fell upon us, that we stood in her ray.
May your memories of me be good ones, she asks.
In other words, remember me in a good light.
You will not just be remembered in a good light
You are the good light
And you outshine the sun.
- for my Val who lived the life she wanted, at her celebration of life, August 26, 2018