I have struggled really hard to post a tribute blog on my web & social media sites for Chris. I think it’s because I still can’t believe that he is actually gone and it just seems so final. But today Chris would have turned 36 and something needs to be said.
I am devastated to say that on the 11th December 2014, my fiancé Chris Palmer lost his battle with his depression and took his own life at our home. Myself, Chris’s family and friends had tried for many years to support and help Chris through his crisis but unfortunately it was just all too much for him. The pain we all feel is unimaginable and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. The funeral was held on Tuesday 23rd December, which was also our 6th anniversary. An incredible amount of people came along to pay their respects and donations were made to the mental health charity MIND, where by £368 was raised for which we are all incredibly grateful. MIND have informed me that Chris will be included in their annual honorary list for 2015. I truly hope that anyone else suffering with depression or any other mental health problems come forward and speak to someone. There are always other options. Don’t ever feel that you are alone or that you cannot be honest about your pain.
Chris was always there to support me when times were hard and the last three and half months have been the toughest. Today it’s hit me harder than ever before and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s all caught up with me and the reality has really set in. I’ve never felt a pain so horrific and I wish it would go away. I hate facing all of this alone, but I have resigned myself to the fact that this is how it’s meant to be and I’ll be a stronger person for it. I hope he has found some peace and is happy wherever he is. Maybe one day I can heal and feel the same.
I have been inspired by Chris’s family for their determination and strength throughout such a tragic time, especially as Chris’s father John has been battling prostate cancer since he was diagnosed with the disease a day before Chris passed away. The following Monday John couldn’t walk and he was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital for an emergency operation to have a tumour and vertebrae removed and metal rod put on his spine. His courage and determination to overcome such an awful disease and Chris’s mother Mary’s attentive love and devotion to John is nothing short of heroic. After a bought of radiotherapy in January, the tests came back yesterday to say that as far as they can see the cancer hasn’t spread and nor has it grown which is extremely encouraging news to say the least. Reece has been provisionally accepted in to three fantastic Universities and will set off in September to start his degree. He has been incredibly strong and resilient these past three months and I am so proud of him, as I’m sure his dad would have been – he always was.
I have tried again and again to write something spectacular and momentous for the occasion however, I think that my initial feelings during the first few weeks sum everything up. Below is my eulogy, a tribute video made courtesy of Dave Parsons and Jonathan Ruffle and links to the songs played at the humanist service. If you are unable to watch the video in other countries, send me your email address and I shall send you a copy.
There is not nearly enough time nor enough words in the world to truly pay tribute to Chris. I wish I had the courage to stand up here and read these words myself without falling to pieces however, I know that Chris would most definitely approve of Paul (my oldest brother) speaking on my behalf.
I had known Chris for twenty years as he used to hang out with my brother Daniel who incidentally ended up living next door to each other for years. Although we called New Years Eve our official anniversary, Christmas itself was when the sparks flew. Every year since we met, Christmas felt like it had the same magic and wonder that used to tingle in my belly when I was a child, yet had inevitably dissipated as I grew older and more cynical. he made Christmas exciting again.
On New Years Eve 2011, for our official third anniversary, Chris proposed to me on the bridge in Stratford Upon Avon as the clock struck midnight and the fireworks lit up the sky. I was completely shocked and slightly tipsy from drinking lots of prosseco, so I initially made squawking noises – similar to the Canadian geese nesting nearby – then managed to squeal a yes. The ring was a couple of sizes too big and fell off my finger next to a drain! I tried picking up it but dropped it a few more times – again the prosecco had hit me at that point of the evening…
Chris was a skilled electrician by trade however, when the recession had hit in 2008/2009 he found it difficult to find regular work. Chris kept himself busy working on a music project we had developed together and it became quite clear early on that he had a natural talent for management and networking and it was almost as though he had worked in the industry his entire life. A cheeky charm and the gusto to aim high and accept nothing but the best was inspirational, motivational and ultimately successful. He was always incredibly passionate, ambitious and hard working. We bounced ideas off of each other, we were a perfect team.
The electrical work picked up but we still kept on with the project and to name just a few highlights, we went on to achieve an international unsigned music award, open up Cornbury Music Festival, we recorded an album with whom we worked with some of the most incredible musicians and producers and released it on our very own label, all the while developing long lasting and meaningful friendships with those that we had worked with. The Aurora J Young project was Chris’s idea but it was our baby that we grew and nurtured together. We were a fantastic team and it all happened because of his love, faith, ambition and determination to succeed and have a bloody good time doing it!
Chris’s love for music grew stronger over the years as he experienced a deeper understanding of the arts which in turn blossomed within his already colourful personality. He became more aware of how music touched people’s lives and how important it was to open up and reach out to others through expression and interpretation. Unfortunately Chris still found it too difficult to talk about his own feelings and his stubborn nature convinced him that these were under control. Chris was his own man and nothing would change his mind once it was made up.
Everything the Aurora J Young project achieved was because of his love, guidance and unwavering belief that it was something that made us both happy and we loved working together so much. It was never about fame, money or recognition – it was always about doing what we loved with people that we loved and having a unique experience to share. I want the project to be his legacy and I am determined to go on to make him proud and achieve everything that we dreamed of, all in his name.
Between working on the record, Chris had been working hard to gain further qualifications and accreditations within the electrical industry and developed his own business C L Palmer Electrical. He was over the moon and we were both extremely proud when he passed all of his exams, registered with Napit and bought his first van in January 2014. I received regular deliveries for tools on his behalf at Storagebase, my previous place of work. I didn’t mind so much accept that he thought it would be hilarious to mark the deliveries for the attention of “Sarah Big Boobs” or “Gobby McBig Tits” to embarrass me and the poor chaps delivering the items! A florist delivering a bouquet of red roses made a complaint to his manager about it on Valentine’s day 2014 because he couldn’t find my place of work and had been in to several different offices asking for Sarah Big Boobs! I tried to make a three course dinner for him that evening and since he would usually do the cooking, it was quite adventurous for me. I managed to smash a dish, grate my hand open and ran so late with the food I had passed out on the sofa straight after. Poor sod!
Over the years behind closed doors, Chris supported me through an incurable auto immune disease, Endometriosis, of which I was diagnosed after surgery in April 2011 and I only really began to improve of as of last year (I have been pain and symptom free for 15 months now). It meant that I suffered from chronic pain, fatigue, depression and also meant that having children of our own would be extremely difficult, if at all. Yet he was always there, no matter what. Even though I am a vegetarian and he wasn’t, he would always either cook two separate meals or add meat to his dish after, because he was so thoughtful and caring like that. Every night he would lift his arm up inviting me to snuggle in to his belly and he would stroke my hair until I fell asleep. He took care of me when I needed him the most and I tried so hard to support him through his emotional turmoil too. We were both fragile creatures, yet we managed to build each other up in to stronger people and brought out the best in one another.
Chris was well known for his cheeky smile and one liners that always had everyone in stitches and he made me laugh every day without fail. The mischievous glint in his eye said that he would never really grow up! We loved the same films, music, food, dark humour and ideas about the future, a future that I cannot even possibly comprehend without him.
Chris was an incredibly loyal and trustworthy friend, he had all the time in the world for them and treated them like family. If anyone ever needed anything from moving house to driving across the country to drop people at festivals, he was there in a heartbeat. He was always the one getting a round in at the pub and making sure everyone was having a good time on a night out.
When Chris’s son Reece would come to visit, I looked forward to spending time with them both and experiencing a family atmosphere in our own home that we had built together. We all got along so well and watching Reece grow from a gobby little 12 year old (yes Reece, you did used to be shorter than me once upon a time!) in to an intelligent young man heading off to University next year has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life and I am so proud of him. Although I have lost Chris, I have gained a beautiful family whom have taken me in to their clan as their own. John, Mary, Colin and Reece mean the world to me and Chris was very lucky to have them, as am I. They have always been there for me too and I could never thank them enough for taking us on a trip of a life time to Hong Kong last year. They truly are the best in laws anyone could ever wish for!
Chris is now free of his demons and that brings me some comfort although the pain of losing him will always be fresh in my heart. He left behind a legacy in Reece though and I know that he will continue to make Chris extremely proud and I will always be there if and when he needs me. I am excited about watching him continue to blossom in to a wonderful, kind, caring young man, just like his dad.
I will always love you Chris. Rest in peace. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
REAP WHAT YOU SOW – Aurora J Young