I was greeted this afternoon by a large crowd of Issy’s friends, colleagues and family waiting in the glorious Autumn sunshine outside the chapel in Putney Vale Crematorium. Groups chatting and sharing stories and anecdotes of their times with Issy and her extraordinary and impressive life.
As we filed into the chapel Sempre Libera from Verdi’s La Traviata played out. Not enough seating for the congregation as we shuffled into whatever spaces we could and stood at the back and half way down the aisle. Issy would have been sniggering at us all squished in but super thrilled that so many people had turned out to pay their respects.
The service was emotional, poignant and heartfelt. It was also brilliant, witty, funny and honest. A true reflection of the girl we were there to say farewell to.
A Eulogy by one of her BFFs, Ross. Brilliantly he summed up Issy’s life. There were many nods around the chapel, lots of tears and roars of laughter too. Just as a Eulogy should be and told, quite clearly, with love.
The service was chosen by Issy in preparation for today. Clearly with as much thought and planning as she had throughout her life. I particularly like the reference to the ‘light in your eyes’ – Issy’s eyes always sparkled.
The first reading was read by Issy’s Mum – The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148-158, Shakespeare (a part where Prospero speaks to Ferdinand, noticing his concern, and tells him not to be dismayed)
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The second reading read by Issy’s brother: Dirge Without Music, Edna St Vincent Millay. (The poet is saying that people have always, and will always, die. While this will never stop, she is not happy with it and “does not approve” of it. In addition the poet talks about people decomposing and becoming flowers, but she says that no flowers are as beautiful as “the light in your eyes”.)
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
There was also a tremendously brilliant photo montage which was then played on two big TV screens in the chapel. Brilliant because it captured Issy in so many stages of her short life. Brilliant also because it reflected so many different aspects of her life. Brilliant also because it made the congregation oooh, aaah, giggle, draw breath, shed a tear and laugh out loud.
After the service we gathered at the magnificent Cannizaro House in Wimbledon. A special place for many of us, including me, who would meet Issy here for a spot of afternoon tea or a glass of bubbles here (or sometimes both!).
What a measure of who Issy was to see so many people gathered but also from so many parts of her life. Representation from her career within facilities management, from her partying days in London and Ibiza, from charities and organisations such as Breast Cancer Care with whom she’d volunteered in so many ways, friends from school and childhood friends, friends from her travels, models from her Breast Cancer Fashion show, friends from Wimbledon and friends she’d gathered along the way. There was also her loving family including her grandfather of whom she was so very fond.
A fitting farewell to an incredible inspirational and feisty friend who will be missed by many many people… and her dear cats, Rosie and Henry.
Donations and notes of remembrance for the family can still be left at http://www.justgiving.com/Ismena-40