The Wednesday morning we woke up in the Travelodge room, knowing that it was going to be one of the hardest days of my life. Mum and Dad went out to explore Margate while I took time on my own to get ready. I never go out without make up (vain or what) so today would be no different, I opted for no mascara and false eyelashes, pretty smart idea in the end....
Mum and Dad returned, we got changed (I put on my Jessica jewelry) and away we went. We pulled up outside the church and spotted Aunty P from the Donor Family Network and so we parked the car and went for a cup of tea in a local cafe, we were soon joined by Emily and Matt, we chatted away about Jess as we looked through the fabulous tribute book Em had made for Jess' family. Me and Em exchanged some presents, I gave her a sparkly frame with a picture of me, her and Jess in it and she gave me a gorgeous scented candle.
We left the cafe and headed for the church, conversation stopped and we came to a standstill as we saw Jess' beautiful pink coffin being placed onto the white horse and carriage... the horses baby pink plooms gently swayed in the breeze. Me and Em stood for a few minutes, holding hands with tears in our eyes...
We were greeted at the church by people that we had only chatted to via the internet, many people came over and introduced themselves to me, I must have seemed rude... I didn't really engage in conversation... I was in a little world of my own. We stood outside for about 15 minutes, not sure why this was, I just think people wanted to stand together and share memories or in our case make small talk... with Matt making inappropriate comments that made me giggle at the most inappropriate times... lets face it though Jess would have been giggling too, I am sure she would have forgiven me!
We headed inside and took our seats. I was sat inbetween Emily and Matt and my parents sat behind me with Aunty P... There was silence in the church, apart from a few late comers who clunked the big heavy church door which resulted in everyone turning round... after what seemed like hours... but it was more like 15 minutes... Savage Garden's - Truly, Madly, Deeply began playing (Jess' favourite song) and the undertakers carried the pink coffin down the aisle... From the first few notes of the song... everyone was in tears, it brought back memories of Save Jess-tival and memories of Jess herself. Her family followed behind and as her coffin went passed I spotted Jess' name on the back of it in a star... and beautiful pink flowers draped over the top.
Jess had chosen all the songs and hymms, we sang Let Me Be a Channel of Your Peace and Be Thou My Vision. A few days after Jess died Emily sent me a beautiful poem in the hope that it would bring me comfort, it really struck a chord and made sense to me, she also sent it to Jackie (Jess' Mum) this was read out at the funeral... the words are so appropriate:
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those that loved you.
It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice
In the face of adversity you chose to live a life that matters
That last line particularly rings true with Jess... she will never be forgotten for her determination and inspiration.
Emily and Matt held my hand through the last part of the service, I was conscious that I was snotting all over them but they didn't seem to mind! I really couldn't of got through it without them.
The tears kept on flowing (I knew the no mascara was a good idea) Jess left the church to Kathrine Jenkins "Time to say goodbye" I get a lump in my throat every time I think of it (I hope the link works, I haven't listened to it myself, I can't, not yet)... and I will never be able to listen to this song in the same way now. It really was beautiful but heartbreaking and there wasn't a dry eye in the church.
We left the church just in time to see Jess being carried away by the horse drawn carriage... as they trotted off down the road we looked at each other and said right lets go to the cemetery, we then realised that none of us knew where it was, and none of us had a postcode for it... we jumped in our cars quick and thankfully caught up with the cortege. Jess' coffin was in sight the whole way there, it was a kind of comfort to know that we were all sharing her journey to her final resting place... she would have been giggling at the fact that the whole cortege went through on red lights (not without some horns papping and dirty looks from other drivers) I felt like saying this is Jess.... do you not know who she is...!!!
We reached the cemetery and gosh I was regretting wearing my patent black heels (Jess wouldn't have wanted anything less though) so I kept up the pace and walked... (it felt like miles) Em held my hand the whole way... we made it to Jess' final resting place and as we did the horse let out one almighty fart... another moment I am sure Jess would have found particularly funny! We walked over to the graveside and watched Jess' coffin as it was lowered into the ground... "Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust" was said... I have only ever seen this on TV programmes.... the tears flowed again. Jess' family threw pink flowers on to her coffin and started to disband, Jackie caught Emily's eye and broke down... she then looked at me gave me a kiss and the hugest hug... and we shed a tear together.
Matt had given me and Em a sunflower each and I brought two pictures... one for me and one for Em so we said our goodbyes and threw them on top of the coffin... as we walked away... mine and Em's heels got stuck in the mud and we could hardly move... Em blamed Jess for this, saying thats exactly what she would have wanted to happen! I couldn't help but smile. We looked along the big line of beautiful flowers and there ours were, it really was prefect, a white heart shape with a Pink J in the middle.
I caught the attention of Jess Dad and he gave me a hug... we stood around for a while... not knowing what to do... not wanting to leave. Jackie came up to me and Em and invited us back to the wake... Mum and Dad felt a bit awkward but Jackie made a point of saying they were invited and welcome... shes such a strong lady, we all know where Jess got her strength and determination from now.
We headed back to Jess' house... the last time I was there was when we filmed for Battlefront... it was so surreal to be there without Jess... pictures of her where dotted around everywhere. There were people everywhere but it somehow felt empty as Jess herself wasn't there! We didn't stay long but it was so nice to be asked back... I had a long chat with Jackie... I hardly knew what to say, but she made it easy for me, she was so relaxed and welcoming... as I left she thanked me for what I had done for Jess... I hadn't done anything! I felt like saying thank you for giving me Jess, for letting me be her friend and for everything she has done for me... I am a different person, a better person, for knowing Jess and I will never forget her.