One year ago today, my girlfriend Valerie passed away. It was very sudden. Within three days she was gone. I didn’t give a eulogy at her funeral, because I was too broken hearted to speak, so I’m going to do it now.
I’m going to try to keep the melodrama to myself. I’ve written at length about how much I miss and love her. But the truth is that she’s still a mystery to me.
We didn’t date for very long. We started talking in early November of 2011 (just before I became homeless) but didn’t have a face-to-face date until early January. A year is not a lifetime, but she was such a complex, deep, layered, interesting individual that even if we had a lifetime, she would continue to surprise me.
She had STRONG tattooed on one of her wrists, but it could have sat on her fist. Her words were like cannon balls that burst through anything in their path. She was not afraid of anyone, and if need be, she would kick your ass. But she was not there for destruction, she was there to help. She was the kind of person that could start a revolution, but for the right reasons. She helped people. She gave till it hurt. She shielded people with her strength until they took that strength upon themselves.
But she was also gentle and shy. Being alone triggered panic attacks. She didn’t believe in herself as much as she should’ve. She was often passive. I know that this wasn’t always the case, but this was the Val that I knew. She was multifaceted, like a cut ruby. She was large, she contained multitudes (I wish I had a Wilde quote to use there, but I’ll settle for Whitman).
She was the most brilliant writer that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Her short stories are masterpieces. She had nearly 25 stories published in magazines, many quite prestigious. Her poetry is sharp and unyielding, like the knife she carried in her bag. Her novel is not just adorable and hilarious, but it is a wry view of the double standard between pursuit in straight romance novels and gay ones.
She was also a caring teacher who brought the best out of her students. She never left a student behind. She was so beloved by her students and coworkers that Mercy College set up a scholarship in her name.
I don’t know what else to say. She was the best person that I ever knew. She saved me. My only regret is that I didn’t get to spend the rest of my life with her. I’m glad that she got to spend the rest of her life with me.