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Farewell My Lovely

How does one begin to express the sense of loss felt over the death of a close friend without resorting to cliche and platitiude. Perhaps it is best not to try, since such expressions become cliched because they embody instantly understandable emotions in a comfortingly familiar form and thus spare one the anguish of groping for words to express the raw and personal pain.

The fact is that my very dear friend Dee, also known as Fifie, died in hospital yesterday afternoon. While she did not seek to hasten death, she had long ago accepted her own mortality. Her health problems were far from trivial and it was inevitable that not even her will and determination would spare her body from finally losing the battle for life, given the odds stacked against her. I spoke to her briefly a couple of days ago; she sounded really dreadful, but went to great lengths to reassure me that she was in the best possible place to deal with her condition to spare me any worry. And that was typical of her – she rarely told people of her health problems unless she had to, preferring to live her life, and be treated by others, as normally as possible, and to spare those who did know unnecessary worry. Even when she did discuss her condition, she never complained or used it as an excuse, maintaining a stoicism and good humour that I doubt many people could match, even in less trying circumstances. She was also one of the nicest and most genuine people I knew, always enthusiastic to help people if she could.

I met Dee in the virtual world through an online tarot course about 6 years ago, and we hit it off fairly quickly, probably as a result of a shared passion for language, writing and literature – the tarot aspect was almost secondary, but we generally viewed that the same way too. We met in person early on and although we didn’t get together very often, we spoke regularly and usually at great length, covering an encyclopedic diversity of topics on our verbal rambles. Even under the most trying circumstances, it was extremely rare for us not to have a laugh, as we also shared a tendency to deal with adversity through humour. In good times and sometimes not, we laughed until we wept and the world seemed a better place. She had a turn of phrase that rolled around the tongue like a fine vintage wine and a ribald sense of humour that occasionally plumbed the dregs of taste and decency, but always in the spirit of harmless fun.

When I heard the news of her death, part of me was angry with the silly cow for not making more of a fuss about her deteriorating condition, for trying to spare me worry at the expense of my being able to say goodbye and tell her again how much I have appreciated her friendship. Mostly, though, I feel sorrow for the yawning chasm that the lack of her presence in my life will leave. I read through some of our many email exchanges last night and found some solace in still being able to hear her ‘voice’ there, but knowing that we will never speak again is hard to bear. Part of me still clings to the hope that it is just a bad dream and she will call me tomorrow with a few choice phrases on the matter that we can have a jolly good laugh over, but it is a vain hope and the reality is that the world will be a little dimmer, a little less joyous and a lot less entertaining with her passing.

I wish you peaceful rest, my friend, and will always be grateful to have known you, as will all those who knew and loved you. I invite your friends to join me in sharing their memories of you here.

8 February 2009

20 Comments to “Farewell My Lovely”

  1. We often talk of sadness. A sadness of feeling alone, a sadness based on trivial things. But the sadness that has rocked my heart today, is deeper than chasms, blacker than a night at the dark of the moon and stronger than any Richter scale could measure.

    For now I can’t find the words to write. For my heart cannot believe it is true.

    One small thing this seemingly cruel event has made sure of, that those friendships that was forged within the furnace, at the same time as this one. Will now be solidified further, and never will I ever be able to hear of certain phrases without a rye smile passing my lips, and fondly remembering.

    Farewell my dearest woolly headed sheep! The world is darker place for a while, but now an extra star in the sky now shines.

  2. Hello Ania – I am so very, very sorry to hear this about Dee. I knew that she was in hospital but was looking forward to a ‘Fifie’ e-mail rattling into my inbox in the next week or two.

    She had the most amazing love of the English language and most recently taught me a new word ‘feculant’ which I adore and use just about every day.

    Fifie, your e-mails were leisurely strolls around a garden of language, arcane and marvellous. You will be greatly missed.

    Ali X

  3. So sorry to hear about Dee’s death. I only knew her through the internet, but she seemed such a really lovely, sweet, interesting lady, who I came to consider a friend. I will miss her.

  4. I was so heart sick to get this news today. Dee was a wonderful friend. We met on TABI but our friendship flourished out side of that. I remember going down to London to visit her and Al and all her kitties. We shared so many long phone calls. She helped me through my fiance leaving me and the heartbreak I felt just as I helped her through the loss of her two favourite furry boys. She shared knitting with me, the Mighty Boosh, and hilarious stories. Dee was a bright spot in my life and I will miss her so much.

    I knew about her health problems and I knew that every day was a blessing for her. She was strong and she didn’t really like to complain. She just got on with it. I just can’t believe it though. I had spoken to her in the New Year and knew she had been ill again. And this last week and a half I had a “not right” feeling in my stomach and had been trying to get a hold of her.

    Not too long ago she knitted fingerless gloves for me and for my son..I will treasure these gifts from the heart. And Dee had a very big heart.

    Farewell for now my dear friend. Give Ivan and his brother a rub around the ears and tell them Shadow sends his love to them and his aunt Fifie too.


  5. Hello Ania and friends.

    Ania, it was with inexpressible shock and profund sadness that I read your note about Fifie’s death…

    I only knew her “virtually” in her capacity as Training Co-ordinator for TABI – a demanding role to which she applied herself with unceasing efficiency and enthusiam – not to mention the very best of good humour!

    I’m probably not the only one of her TABI friends and colleagues who had no idea that she was so poorly, or that she had lived with so many long-standing health problems… Bravery was clearly another of her special qualities.

    Fifie, the contribution you made to our Tarot Community is incalculable; your influence amongst us will endure. Thank you for sharing your life with us, and may you now rest in perfect peace.

    Julie T

  6. I’ve thought about this for a while, wondering what clever words to use to express my shock and sadness at Dee’s passing; after all, I thought, the words should be clever because my friend was so passionate about them. She certainly wouldn’t appreciate cliches! Then I realised that what Dee prized above all was the sincerity and honesty that comes from knowing somebody well; the deep understanding between two people that renders all artifice redundant. So, I’ll just tell it like it is.

    I met Dee online and, sadly and despite our best intentions, we never met in the real world. That tiny fact didn’t mean that our connection was any less profound. When I wanted honest and constructive feedback on my writing attempts, it was Dee to whom I turned. When I wanted to bemoan chronic pain and illness, again it was Dee who wiped my tears, albeit ‘virtually.’

    I have a whole archive of our email correspondence and, despite this sad news, I once again giggled at her words. And, given what I’ve just written about cliches, I don’t think she would mind one bit my sharing of the following, that came up in a discussion about thunder storms:

    “As in the other moments of real, real shock in my life, my inner Dee was being objective, saying – ‘Oooh, look – when you read about people in crappy books being rooted to the spot, you think it’s rubbish, that doesn’t happen to people, but look, here you are now, you can’t move, rooted to the spot’ etc.”

    Of late, Dee and I hadn’t communicated so much – divergent paths and busyness. I will always resent the busyness that moved me off at a tangent because it meant I missed valuable moments with a good friend that can now never be recovered.

    But Feefs, darling, you will always be with me, cos you taught me to knit socks – and I can feel a pair coming on right now.

    Nighty-night my friend – it was a pleasure, a privilege, and a bloody good giggle too. So long as I wear socks on my feet, I will carry you in my heart.


  7. I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear this news. Having only known Fifie through the ether – I had no
    idea of the seriousness of her illnesses.

    Never having met her in person, I can only give my impressions of a friendship entirely on line.
    My memory of Fifie Fluke will be of a luminous warmth and incredibly lively personality which was
    always on the verge of laughter – her sense of humour was outstanding – and every interaction we
    exchanged left me smiling………….. no small mark to make on the world.

    I will be lighting a candle for this remarkable woman tonight.

    Elfy xxxxx

  8. Can you see me standing overhere? Don’t be afraid, let me come near, I cannot touch you, take your hand but I can help you understand.
    I know that since I went away you find it difficult each day to come to terms with life again, with how and why and what to blame.
    I too felt angry for a while, I tried to hid my fear and smile, but each hour was eternity, the pain, the nurses, you and me.
    I never thought, I did not know that all they taught us long ago would in the end be really true but here I am once more, with you. So close your eyes now into dreamtime, you in your world, join with mine, questions, answers, scattered patterns, leave them all, for nothing matters. Life is just a passing through and I will always wait for you.

  9. Ania,

    This is very sad news.

    I never got to meet Dee but in e-mail I always found her to be very supportive, understanding, appreciative and open to new ideas. Dee was great fun.

    I’ll miss her.


  10. At the moment, I don’t know what to say about this. I have been searching inside myself ever since I heard, trying to find the words to express what’s inside me. And yet — I can’t. I don’t think it has sunk in yet, not properly. The tears come so readily… I just feel so numb and hollow. Goddess, how can I find the words? How can I articulate this speechlessness and shock I feel in my heart? How can I say what I want to say, with the tears so fresh and new?

    I first “met” Dee online, about 8-10 years ago. We shared so many passions — writing, cats, tarot, spirituality (and, in more recent years, knitting) — that we hit it off. Chats via email and instant messenger became long and involved telephone conversations at all hours of the day and night. Sometimes we’d not speak for around six months or more, but when we did we’d just continue on as if there’d never been a break. She had so many wonderful turns of phrase, one of her favourites being “Oh, good egg!” … Thinking of that now makes me smile through my tears.

    We always said we’d meet up. Travelling was difficult for her, so the plan was that I would one day head to London and we’d sit and have a cuppa, share laughter and hugs and interests. For one reason or another, we never did that.

    Dee had a fire about her, an inner light that shone out no matter what she did, one that inspired others to be the best they can be. She always saw the best in people, have confidence and encouragement to share, and knew the true meaning of “empowerment”. No idea was too wacky for her, no concept taboo or risqué. She did a lot that scared her and she wasn’t afraid to show her fear — but she forged on regardless. She had a bubbling personality, a wonderful sense of humour that occasionally raised itself from the gutter, and a dry wit that I adored. She always had me smiling, and our conversations always left me feeling inspired and strong.

    Dee, darling Dee… I can’t express what I feel in my heart right now. I miss you. I love you. I am thankful for every time our lives touched, and I am honoured that I could call you “friend”. Rest well, my good egg. *hugs*

    — Heather xxx

  11. Like many others here, I met Dee online via TABI about 2 years ago now. We were due to go to the UK Tarot Conference together last October but sadly Dee was not well enough to attend on the day, so sadly I never got the chance to meet her in person. During my time on the TABI Committee, we exchanged many emails and became close friends. Indeed after I left TABI we continued to keep in touch and I have just been reading the last email from her that I received in January. Despite not being well, Dee was always so cheerful and we often exchanged stories and pictures of our cats. Dee loved her cats dearly and I know they will be missing her now.

    To use your closing words Dee – ‘Love and hugs’, tahnk you for your friendship and may you now be at peace my friend.

    Jane (Booth)

  12. I really only ‘knew’ Dee in her Madama Fifie guise, and a magnificent guise it was. Her Medusa was a tour-de-force and one I treasure still, and she knew a good pole when she saw one.

    Dee sent me virtual chocolates and flowers which I have just enjoyed again – I like to think she knew they’d last, along with the encouragement and humorous understanding Madama offered to help my writing nerves.

    When I’m shocked / hurting I tend to go quiet, so I’ll just end on one word, for Dee and for Ania, an echo of Madama herself:


  13. Dearest Fifie Dee,

    I still cannot believe you’re gone, but know that you’ll always be in my memories and my heart. I so enjoyed our friendship over the last 12 months – our phone conversations, e-mails, your lovely soaps you kindly sent me (I still have a few bars left and wanted to stock up next month…), your love, warmth and support, talking about our cats…I felt looked after when we were in touch. Why did this have to happen to you?

    I will miss you loads and hope you’ll be floating peacefully through time and space.

    Love and hugs,


  14. Ania,

    I am so sorry to hear this news 🙁

    I didn’t know Dee well, having only met her once, and then corresponded with her online; but I do know how very close you two were (you have written a beautiful blog here btw) and I really feel for your loss.

    For Dee, the contact that I did have with her was warm, funny and always delightful. Articulate beyond belief, and such a lively curiosity, too! Am sending a vibe to wherever she is now, and deeply hoping to meet her again next time round 🙂

    Love and light,

  15. Hello Ania,

    I’m so very sorry to hear about Dee. I never had the chance to meet her in person, but even via email she came across as warm, friendly and fun with a great sense of humour. She was always very nice to me and while she didn’t complain about her illness, she would talk about it if she thought it would help someone else.

    She’ll be sorely missed.


  16. Hello, Ania, what a lovely piece you have written about Dee. I was so shocked and deeply sad to hear that she had died. Dee was one of the most generous and creative people and I’m so, so glad to have known her;kind,funny,warm. I would love to think that she has been re-united with her cats. I feel so bad that we didnt manage to meet up more often. Harriet xxxx

  17. I first met Dee years ago when she placed an order at my then on-line tarot store. It was the funny, little Gatti cat deck. How could she resist…she loved her kitties so.
    Almost overnight, it seems, we became email friends. That was her way. It was impossible not to become her friend.
    I remember thinking once about the energy in her messages. As soon as I opened one, I’d feel this warm rush of enthusiasm and delight. It just seemed to spill out. What a gift she had for spreading joy!
    I loved her funny takes on everything. She saw the adventure in the mundane and made me feel it too.
    Dee, you are such a bright soul. I’m so glad our lives touched. Namaste.


  18. I was so sorry to hear the news of Dee’s passing, I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of times and we have chatted on the phone and via email. I had no idea that she was in such poor health and so your news came as a shock. The last time I spoke to Dee was around the passing of one of her beloved cats, and I know that they will be happily reunited.

    It is a sad loss for all that had the pleasure of knowing Dee and my heartfelt wishes go out to those of you that were close to her.


  19. Hi,

    Like most people, I knew Dee through TABI and was lucky enough to meet her in “real life” at the first TABI conference. The energy she had was just as present when talking via MSN, telephone or email as it was in real life. Although, she did admit to once falling asleep during a late night MSN conversation we had 🙂

    When I first joined TABI, I enjoyed going through all the old TABI e-zine’s and then recieving the new versions when they were published. The first thing I always read and looked forward to the most was the “Madame Fifie” stories. When doing the course, I never thought that i’d be able to read the cards like that.

    I had the honour of doing the Tarot Expression course with Dee and Ania – although it was perhaps more of a chore for them as it meant they ended up correcting my punctuation and grammar. Dee tried to reassure me that it wasn’t that bad and managed manfully (or womanfully !) not to correct my grammar on msn, emails, etc.

    Even though it might be, to use a phrase of Dee’s “like running up a down escalator that’s hosting a mud waterfall”, I hope that I can remember how to use a little of what she has taught me correctly. Who know’s the creative writing bug may bite – although i find it easier to knit socks.

    To Dee,
    Thank you for being a part of my life – making me laugh and cheering me up even when you were down yourself. It has been an honour knowing you and knowing you had the faith and trust to share your health promblems with me was a priviledge.

    With love, hugs and deepest respect

    Sharon xx

  20. I have received the following condolences today from the TABI forums:

    I just found out today and am devastated – Fife was a wonderful friend to me and I had been trying to get hold of her for over a week because something in my gut told me something was not right. I had spoken to her after xmas and knew she had been ill and was worried for her because of her long term illness.

    I just..don’t know what to say


    I haven’t formulated my feelings into coherent words myself Sherry… I text her the other week when I found out I was pregnant and she seemed really upbeat but quick in the reply. But I hadn’t spoken with her verbally for a while, not since Yule.

    I knew she’d been ill with her chest but that they were working on it…. but I didn’t realise how seriously ill she’d been until now. I text her a “get well soon” as my e-mails were downloading, as I’d been told that she was in hospital…. then I read Ania’s mail above in the same download (but 5 mins later) and my heart just broke

    I guess nature and the Gods have decided enough is enough and they wanted her more than we do.

    My heart goes out to Al and Dee’s family and to all those that were privileged enough to know her and to be able to call her a friend. I learnt a lot from her and I’m deeply sorry I’ll never hear her laugh again


    I’m incredibly saddened to hear this. I knew she wasn’t feeling well, but didn’t know she was quite this ill. The last I spoke to her was before Yule. the last time I spoke to her on the phone.. I remember how sweet she was, and adamant that I put a box garden up on my deck this spring. I will I really looked up to her and absolutely thought the world of her. I will miss her incredibly so..


    Very sad news.

    We never got to meet up in person. In e-mail, Fifie was great fun, highly intelligent and always open to new ideas.

    I did some Astrology for Fifie and she asked if I would accept as payment a package of special luxury soap that she made. Fine by me. About a year later, Fifie and I used the same bartering arrangement again.

    Fifie said that I was probably the cleanest astrologer in the world :~)

    RIP Fifie

    Mick Frankel

    Very sad news indeed

    My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.


    I never met Fifie, only Emailed occasionally during training, she sounded like a very lovely person.


    I am sad to hear this news – though I hadn’t met her in person we often emailed to do with TABI business training and mentoring and she was a wonderful warm and friendly person. I had no idea she was ill at all. May she find peace and joy now. Emma Sunerton Burl

    My condolences.


    so sorry to hear the news…

    i only ‘met’ fifie when i joined TABI last summer. her emails were always helpful and kind – i had no idea of her health issues…

    please send my condolences to her family,

    claire x (Oaklover)

    I’m very sad to hear this. I only knew Fifie on-line, in her role as Training Co-ordinator – and I always found her to be very supportive and friendly. Like Mick, I have some of her handmade soaps ….
    May she find peace now.

    Alison Coals

    This is an awful shock. I did not know Fifi had underlying health problems. We never met although our homes were not far from each other, and she was “the tarot reader” at a Sunday market not far from here. I had always meant to drop in, but somehow never did. The only opportunity to meet would have been at Witchfest a couple of years ago, only Fifi was not able to join us.

    As well as a shock to her family, husband, and her close friends, it is very sad for the TABI “family” to lose one of its members in this way.



    This is very sad news, I never met Fifie in real life but like others we swapped a lot of emails and she was always warm and humorous, always made me smile..

    Don’t know what to say at the moment…


    Have just received my Tracker and learned of Fifie’s passing, would you possibly be able to pass on my thoughts of love to her family at all, and of course all of those to whom she was close at TABI.
    I am stunned to hear this sad news and to be honest words fail me, but while I was a member of TABI, Fifie was a lovely lady and I had many lovely emails from her.

    With Sadness Ruth Raymer

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