Monday, January 29, 2018

Memorial Service For Relayers Henrietta and Hilshire Demina

By Bixyl Shuftan and Gemma Cleanslate

On Thursday January 18, it was announced in the Relay for Life Volunteers group that the leader of the Strange Journey team, Henrietta Demina (Barbara Parker in real life), had died along with her real-life brother Hilshire Demina (Bill Parker) in a car accident. On Saturday January 27, friends and supporters of her held a memorial service at her family's home in Castle Ravensloft in Redshift. The sim was packed for most of the event, so some listened to the broadcrast stream from the Legends club in Arinultra Cay, courtesy of T1 Radio. At the castle chapel, there were two caskets in front of the audience chairs, with pictures of the departed placed on the walls.

"I am going to ad-lib the first part... " Rowena Dubrovna, the little otter of Strange Journey started the service, "First, I wanted to say that her real-life sister requested that we put out a Relay for Life kiosk so we have one in between the caskets here. Also, I am overwhelmed as is everyone else on how many people are here from Castle Home and Garden, Relay For Life, etc. .. it amazes me. Now on script Mady."

Rowena composed herself and restarted, "Hello everyone and thank you for coming to Henrietta and Hilshire's memorial. I've had to say this  several times the last two weeks and it hasn't gotten any easier. Henrietta and Hilshire were brother and sister in the grid and in real life. They were driving to Wal Mart for a late night run, just an hour after Hen and I were discussing the Castle Home and Garden, when a driver who was texting rammed right into their car and took their lives from them.

"I want to make a note, some of you are probably thinking, 'how morbid are those Strange people for putting out a casket in Second Life.' But trust me, these two are the type who would want a casket at a thing like this. They had caskets all over this castle and all we had to do was move it over here. They were vampires. I got a letter from Henrietta sent to me by her real-life sister. She wrote it after her mini stroke in July-- and it said 'This letter is to tell you of my demise.' Just using that word, demise, shows us who Henrietta is. Morbidly sarcastic. Also, we are in Henrietta's design-- her castle (from Lady Nansen, as she would want me to credit her), and her land. I do not know how much longer this land will be here. I strongly encourage you guys to just wander around. It is incomplete- she was in the middle of renovation. She was deeply, deeply committed to making the sim the way she wanted it to be. She never advertised it because she didn't want all this attention on her, but take a look. The castle. The dragons- oh, the dragons! there are 20 or 30 out there, and hundreds of eggs. It kills me that they are just sitting there and there is nothing I can do about it.

"I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about who they were. You'll hear speeches today in their memory, how they made a difference, but Henrietta in particular was very much involved with her Second Life family.

"Barbara and Bill Parker lived a fulfilling life by anyone's standards. They were far too young to have their lives taken from them, but I can at least rest easy that they were happy. They were both very close to their real life family, and very much appreciated a solitary, quiet life. Henrietta had several odd jobs after retiring, such as limo driver. Hilshire did the same. At some point they agreed to live together because they were both single, and they lived in Missouri. Henrietta was very fond of talking about her ferrets. Hilshire and Henrietta both were very vested in music and the world of music. In addition, Hilshire fell in love with building in a virtual world before Henrietta and taught Henrietta everything she knows. Before we knew it, she had designed several castles!

"Henrietta Demina, or Barbara Parker, found Second Life over ten years ago with Hilshire and for a while they found it to be a great release. Hilshire took a step back from Second Life several years ago but Henrietta started a new journey, Relay for Life of Second Life. And that's where she made a difference in our lives. My short snippet above should tell you how they made a difference their whole lives, but Henrietta's work for Relay for Life made her who she was. I thought I would tell you some of her favorite things. Her favorite holiday was Halloween- not only does it embody her spirit, but that's her birthday.

"With that, I am going to turn things over to our speeches today. The way we are approaching this memorial is we will have a speech, and then a song played. This will go a little over an hour, but we are here for Henrietta and Hilshire after all. Today you will hear from mostly Relay people, but some of her Bloodlines family is here as well."

The next speech was given by NinaSofia Constantine, "A quote from Albert Sweitzer, 'At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.' Henrietta was a flame igniter!  It didn't matter which team event you were at she was there shedding her light.  She was that little shinning star always beautiful.  I always called her  "Henrietta the cutie." Her loyalty to her friends, her passion for Relay and her humor are what stands out to me the most. Henrietta was one of those avatars who you could see directly to her heart. Her light is no longer with us but I have no doubt it shines brighter! Those of us that knew herand Relayed with her will carry the light she ignited within us. She will never be forgotten."

Next came Cuddly Waffle, "'Hey, ev'rybody!' That's a Henri greeting right there.

"Firstly, thank you all for being here today. I like to think that both Hen and Hil would have been blown away by the love in this room.Last Friday morning, as I was getting ready for work, I opened up a facebook message from Rowena. 'I've got bad news,' he said, 'message me so I can let you know.' I rolled my eyes and carried on putting my socks on, sure in my assumption that our darling otter was being melodramatic, as he so charmingly can be. But, I shot a quick message back, 'What's up?'

"The little typing symbol appeared, then disappeared, then reappeared. It did this a few times. Then a message: 'Are you in a position to take ten/twenty min to yourself to recover?' Something in me rippled; this wasn't Otterli. This was serious. 'Ish, I leave for work in ten!' 'Ok I will tell you when you are in a better state.' But I couldn't wait. I knew something was seriously wrong and I couldn't spend the day at work not knowing, 'Tell me now.'

"The typing symbol flickered again for a minute. Then the message came that shattered my reality, 'Henrietta died. Hilshire and Henrietta were in killed in an accident and they are no longer with us.'

I read the message over and over, and each time it made less sense. I could vaguely hear my real-life partner Thomas saying 'What's wrong?'

"'My friend is dead,' I said, 'My friend is dead.'

"Since Henrietta and Hilshire crash-landed into our mad little family, they have been stoic, sturdy figures of reliability, dependence, and dedication. I couldn't piece together the reality I was experiencing. When I thought of Hen and Hil, the very last phrase I would have paired them with was 'gone forever.'

"But then I realized, over the next few days, they aren't really gone. Not really. 'Those we love never truly leave us' - Albus Dumbledore. Hen was still all around us. I could hear her daft giggle gesture echoing, and I smiled. What would she say if she could see us now? 'See how ya are?' she'd say. 'Y'all are daft!' *giggle*

"Hen and Hil gave us the most precious thing you can have in life - real or second. Years of good memories, wonderful times, hard work, dedication and effort. True friendship and a bond that will be remembered for the rest of our lives.

"I'd like to leave you with a single quote that I saved from Henri at Relay last year, because it made me laugh so hard. It wasn't like Hen to be crude or tell rude jokes, but this one was perfect - it was cheeky, but perfectly subtle, just like her.

"'Henrietta Demina: I was gonna take a pic with a dog once, but he didn't like where I tried to put the film.'

"O captain my captain, I miss you so."

Following Cuddly's speech, the music stream played the song "Tears in Heaven." Then Sidonie Carlberg, the tiny sugar glider, read a poem.

My heart is broken
and my mind is grey
so many things unspoken
so much left to say
the time just ran out
when we didn‘t see

O Captain, my Captain,
please, come back to me.

I can still see your smile
and your giggle I hear
and once in a while
I can feel you‘re still near.
Can‘t you wake me up
from this nightmare as such

O Captain, my Captain,
I miss you so much.

And yet I am thankful
please, don‘t get me wrong
for every moment
and I will be strong.
My limbs, they may tremble
but I walk through the rain

O Captain, my Captain,
until we meet again.

Next, Nuala Maracas gave a few words, "Henrietta was someone we took for granted would be around for much longer. As family, as friends, as a community, we express our sadness, we acknowledge our loss, acknowledge the great importance of Henrietta's life, and the loss to us all that her passing brings. Of course it wouldn't be right to talk about Henrietta without mentioning her larger virtual family and friends  from the Relay For Life of Second Life Community.  From her beloved Team Strange Journey along with the Castle Home and Garden mini mega, to the hundreds of relayers and relay teams she supported, Henrietta was alway around. Quietly offering words of encouragement and support. The first to raise her hand when a DJ was needed, the first to say, 'I can help, what do you need.' She was one of the ones who drank the purple cool-aide.

"I remember the first time I met Henrietta. I had always seen this little girl around at various Relay For Life events for a few months, our conversation consisting of nothing more than 'Hi Henrietta' ... 'Hi Nuala.'  Then one day, my IM box opens up with Henrietta asking where she can find a logo of that particular years theme. We started chatting, and I realized, this woman is really passionate about Relay. The next time I saw her was at a Jail & Bail fundraiser where she stood outside of a wooden jail cell in the forest, where she was  appearing to be a referee between a little girl named Cuddly and an otter named Rowena who were bantering back and forth on whether it was correct for a caged otter to pee on someone's shoe. I never laughed so hard and thought, this is one strange family, but they all fit together so well." Someone chuckled, and Rowena gave Cuddly a look.

Nuala continued, "It is true that there is much sadness here today, but, all of your journeys taken with Henrietta during her time in this virtual world will live on in each of you, enriching, guiding, and perhaps making you pause and smile every now and then. This is what we will remember.  (This is how we will Remember our Henrietta."

Someone then had a few words about the brother, "I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about Hilshire as I know most of you did not know him. I knew him as an e-mail buddy the last five years. The one thing I noticed above all else... is how everything was all about Henrietta. That should tell us one thing- the love between brother and sister was strong. I swear, every email I got from said something like 'Henrietta is bothering me again.' 'Henrietta is bugging me to.' Henrietta this, Henrietta that. Looking back it makes me feel bad that we didn't talk about Hilshire enough. But what I do know of Hilshire is his warm, sweet, caring heart. He was the "leader" of their vampire clan until he left, and he enjoyed the roleplaying very much. I can't really say much more than this on Hilshire, and he wouldn't want me to. But I can say this- thank you for everything. And on behalf of me, Sid, Cuddly, Nina and all of us-- thank you for taking care of Henrietta. You didn't deserve to have your life taken away from you the way you did, but it gives me some solace, some peace that you are with Henrietta today. God works in mysterious ways. I often tell myself that I don't believe in a God, that he or she would never inflict this much pain and suffering in our lives if he or she did exist. But situations like this make me think, we are all part of God's plan. You and Henrietta moved in together and you took care of Henrietta through thick and thin-- and she took care of you. So, now that can continue- that eternal bond, that forever saving grace. Thank you."

Next was Madonna Daehlie, "For me, one of the most special things about Relay has been getting to know so many amazing people, and I would certainly qualify Henrietta as amazing. Over the years, I've had the privilege of getting to talk to her, seeing her at events, listening to her DJ, and even working directly with her, like at last month's Christmas Expo.

"The two things that always stood out the most with her were her tireless work ethic, and her kindness and compassion.

"Whether it would be helping to run Team Strange Journeys, DJ'ing an event, helping to run the Castle Home and Garden Contest, or just seeming to be everywhere, Henrietta was like the Energizer Bunny. And, during the Expo, it seemed like anytime something came up and Kitty and I needed a host to fill in, we could count on Henrietta stepping up and helping out, even if it meant going 3 or 4 hours straight.

"Even more amazing, though, is that in all the years I'd known Henrietta, I never saw her say anything negative about anyone or anything. She always seemed to be positive, no matter what was going on or how busy she was. She treated everyone with kindness and respect and compassion, and just seemed to truly like and care about everyone she was around. Being around her brightened up my day, and I imagine everyone else who was around her felt the same way.

"I'm going to miss Relaying with her. More than that, I'm going to miss having her around. Thank you for all you brought to Relay, Henrietta. Thank you for making the world a better place. Second Life's a little less bright with you gone.

"Rest in peace, my friend."

After the music stream played "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Random Darrow then gave a few lines (unfortunately, the notes of which were lost). After the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" played, Kitty Gumbo had some words, "When Rowena asked if I would like to speak about Henrietta, I just didn't know where to start.  First, I am honored to write about the Henrietta we all knew and loved.
I cannot remember when I first met Hen. She just always seemed to be part of Relay. So, I'm going to write about the things I do remember.  It seemed Henrietta was a part of so many things. She was a fantastic and creative builder. She was good at organizing and she was always  reliable. and willing to help. This past Christmas Expo, Henrietta was a host for our entertainment.   Madonna, my co-lead, and I were busy trying to fill in spots where people wouldn't show up or they couldn't come. Henrietta was right there to fill in. That was Henrietta. She quietly filled in and did her job. If there was something that needed to be built, she had it expertly finished. All of these projects were volunteered. I cannot think of the hours she put in at each project. Yet, she never complained and she never asked for a thank you. I'm going to miss her quiet efficient presence. Her kind encouraging words were always just what was needed.  Good bye dear one. You will be very missed."

Sara Llewellyn (Sarandel Llewellyn) recited some poetry.
'Look into my eyes
You will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart
Search your soul
And when you find me there, you'll search no more

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for
You know it's true
Everything I do
I do it for you.' -Bryn Adams

Beneath the smoking skies.
Sometimes you can barely tell the difference
Between darkness and light.
Do you have faith
In what we believe?
The truest test is when we cannot,
When we cannot see.
I hear pounding feet in the,
In the streets below, and the,
And the women crying and the,
And the children know that there,
That there's something wrong,
And it's hard to believe that love will prevail.
Oh it can't rain all the time.
The sky won't fall forever.
And though the night seems long,
Your tears won't fall forever.

Rowena Dubrovna gave the final speech, "I am sitting here at my computer, not knowing what to say. It's not so much that I can't speak of how much you made a difference, but the fact that I can't decide how I feel. At least with some illnesses you can prepare yourself, you know it's coming-- but you passed away without any kind of notice. It makes me hyper aware of how fragile life can be-- how broken, how scary. How am I supposed to know if I can say "see ya later", when the next thing I know, you're gone?

"I've known you for five years- five years that have gone by like the speed of light. First you were on Relay Ravens team. I remember you were basically alone, even though the Demina clan was 'behind' you. Hilshire had pretty much left Second Life at that point. Then after that we kind of just took off. We combined our teams and that was the take off point! We talked about just about everything and anything. I remember you recently were listening to me whine about my teenager. We talked a lot. We talked about the Castle Home and Garden almost every day didn't we. What frustrates me so bad is I always felt like people didn't see you and didn't see what you did. It's so like you to just fade in the background and let others take credit for things that you did. I honestly don't even know where to start with what you did. I stand here today, or sit rather, and I am telling people.. you blew me away. I feel bad because sometimes you made the Castle Home and Garden your full time job and you should have stepped back, taken a break. Sometimes I still feel that people don't give you credit when credit is due. You know what they say, the best artists don't get their fame until after they die. Is that what you're doing?

"In the aftermath of your death, I started to feel the love for you. You've always been short and sweet and to the point. You never really told me how much impact you made, and how much you were aware of it-- I'm realizing more now than ever that you spread your wings and you really knew how to fly. For Christmas Expo you helped me put out 30 some trees... but you did so much more than that. You took pictures of them, you aligned them, you organized them... it was amazing what you did. When I worked the Fashion Faire you were right beside me helping out the whole way. You DJ'ed for almost every single team. You embodied the meaning of Relay. People may not realize it, but you did.

"I don't think Relay is about teams, about competition, about you versus me. I think you helped us all realize why we do what we do- we do this so we can save lives, right? But it is just as much about community as it is about saving lives. We fight for each other, with each other, sometimes we yell at each other to make sure things are organized.

"Last year we didn't raise so much for Team Strange Journey. The years before that we raised some but it never came from your pocket. I hope people realize how much money you and Hil collected over the years. You'd never divulge, but I was right there with you. I know it was upwards in the thousands. I know you lived in a trailer and were poor, but you didn't care. You wanted others to feel encouraged. When we support others, then they will start supporting others, too. Not a penny went to the Team Strange Journey kiosk, but you poured your heart and soul out in everyone else's. You didn't care if it was Trader's kiosk or Bella's kiosk or Melodie's or whoever. It was all the same to you.

"You saw the goodness in everyone's heart. You encouraged everyone to be themselves, you encouraged them to become the shining light of Relay. You are the true spirit of Relay, and we recognize that more now than ever. That spirit and undying loyalty and commitment you had to Relay, you had to me, you had to all of us-- we won't forget that. Of this I promise.

"If anyone is ever feeling discouraged, or feels the need to criticize someone or see the negative and rather than helping improve, spit on them-- I hope they think of you. There is no place for negativity or drama in your world, and there is certainly no place for drama or negativity in our lives or in Relay.

"I hope you all realize how much it bothered Henrietta if there was drama present. She was a no drama llama, and you should be too. Henrietta would want you to remember why we are all here-- not only are we fighting for our loved ones, but we are fighting for each other, with each other, always.

"Henrietta, thank you for everything. Thank you for being such a good friend. You made the Castle Home and Garden what it is-- and we will hold it in your honor this year. I promise we will have Team Strange Journeys and I promise we will fight on. Thank you for touching the lives of so many. Thank you for dealing with so many people for me even if they made you crazy. Our merchants, our builders, our Relayers all love you. Thank you for staying up with me at night when I was bored out of my mind in the hospital last year. Thank you for always worrying about me. Thank you for being such a good friend for Sid and Cuddly when we were in need of a friend like you. Now I end with one of Hens' favorite poems, which is eerily connected to today... I love you Hen."

Rowena then recited a poem, "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson.

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me – 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring – 
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – 
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity – 

Following the poem, the music stream played "The Show Must Go On." Like the title of the song, although the Relayers had lost a comrade and friend, but the purpose of the Relay for Life goes on.

* * * * *

I myself came to the memorial late, after some had left the area. I would rely on notes from Gemma Cleanslate and Rowena to write this article, Gemma also providing most of the pictures. As a Relayer myself, this story was a little closer than most. The Strange Journey team might not have been around for as long as some, but their antics had always drawn attention and laughs. And now, we were crying as we were saying goodbye to their captain and her brother.

Rest in peace Henrietta and Hilshire Demina

Bixyl Shuftan

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