Thursday, October 09, 2014

Goodbye to a Friend

Dear friend and writer Valerie B-Taylor died while we were having fun at VCon, unaware that, far from getting better during her stay at hospital, she was letting go of her life. It is a very sad parting, and I so wish I had had the chance to say goodbye.

Valerie was filled with humour and compassion. She was audacious and bold in her writing and her life; we called her seat in our writers group The Naughty Seat because of what she brought to it so many times. Yet she also brought encouragement, joy, deep sorrow, fierce protectiveness, and a wild intelligence that I will miss for years to come.

Goodbye, dear one. Thank you for your love and wisdom. Many blessings on your journey.

Photo from New West Writers

Valerie was, among other supportive roles in the writing community, the president of New West Writers. This is something she posted on their site:

V.B.-Taylor (formerly Valerie P. Aelbers)

It is in that moment, that very moment, when my mind, spirit, and body converge that I know I am a writer. When story moves through me; when story translates through text onto paper another voice unheard.
V. B.- Taylor

The video above shows Valerie as she receives a Distinguished Poet/Writer Award (WIN Literary Festival) presented by Ashok Bhargava and Mabel Elmore, MLA, in Richmond, 2013.

There will be a Tribute Gathering for Valerie with various performers at City Centre Library in Surrey, room 418, behind the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, on Friday, 24 October from 5:30-8:30 PM.

Thanks to Eileen Kernagahn, our leader at the Kyle Center Writers Workshop, for making space for us to grieve and celebrate Valerie today, and to Eileen Mackenzie for bringing in her written memoir of Val, which opened the gates for all of us to speak who needed to.


Katherine Wagner said...

I'm so sorry to learn of this. I didn't know Valerie well, but I was touched by her writing and sense of humour and fun when we were in the Kyle Centre writing group together. My sympathies to her family and friends.

Esther said...

Thanks for posting this, Casey. Valerie was vibrant, joyful, courageous and loving. She encouraged many, including me. I will miss her sparkling determination and great smile. I keep thinking that if she could tell me anything right now it would be, "God IS really as wonderful as you said God was... actually more! So, keep writing your stories. I love them, and love you." And I love you too, Valerie.

Julie H. Ferguson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie H. Ferguson said...

I yearn/need to come to this event but I have a huge conflict that night involving SiWC. If I cannot, I will be thinking of Valerie and all the laughs we had in the writers' group and her feisty words she shared.

Love ya, Lola!! (Val will totally understand this.)

I'm hoping there is a writers' group in heaven and we can all continue our passion together!!

Farida Somjee said...

Goodbye Dear Valerie. You will be missed by many. Thank you for your kindness, support and always willing to help. I will miss your laugh the most. Rest In Peace sweet soul.


Anonymous said...

For Valerie

Was that your soul gently nudging me last Sunday morning? As I lay drifting between sleep and wakefulness, I pulled the warm sheets and blankets closer to my neck and huddled in an embryo position, thinking of you. Your story about the soothing memory quilt came to mind. What great words you used to describe the experience. Words that still resonate with me today.

When I heard that you had passed on, I honoured your memory by dressing in black and went dancing. You always laughed when you heard me say, “Sorry, I didn’t get any writing done. I was too busy dancing.” Dance is a communion of spirit. I needed to feel connection with you through the dance.

I can’t believe you’ve passed on. But to what? I hope it is the white light you’re basking in now and that you’re feeling only joy. Certainly you were a crusader here on earth when you used your writer’s voice to speak up for women’s rights, especially those of battered and abused women. Remember when you did that “radio broadcast” with Casey. It was very moving.

Here, at Kyle writers, we have cried and laughed with you. Your critiques were always bang on and encouraging. I remember your genuine enthusiasm when I shared the success of my first publication. It was much appreciated.

Your license plate read “Mystic”, such an apt description for your spirit, always in pursuit of everything creative. You shared that spirit with all of us. I loved your support of performance art. Later, you devoted your energies to New West Writers leading, supporting and encouraging them to gather their voices together and publish the book you made happen.

Here in the writing community you will be sadly missed. There is a void. Your life has made a difference to many people. You were such a colourful person. It seems apt that you chose to move on in the fall, the most colourful season of the year.

And Valerie, only a vibrant person such as yourself, with that sexy blonde long hair and bold dangling earrings, could wear bling and studded ripped jeans with your flashy black leather jacket, and maybe even sometimes it was studded denim, with such style and flair. You might have been in your fifties, but you will remain forever youthful. May your memory always remain in our hearts.

Eileen Mackenzie

Clayton Taylor Aelbers said...


As I wake I think of you
I wash my face , brush my teeth and pick out my mask
Each day I wear a different one
Some bold ,strong and tough
Some softer with dark eyes and a false smile
I've been at your house going through papers and boxes
I found pictures of you when you were young
Fur coats and playful smiles
Black and white photos crinkled and faded with torn corners
You looking tender and beautiful
I reminisce over old costume jewelry
Some well worn with stones and gems missing
Some silver some gold
Little foot notes and poems
Notes to yourself and reminders
Lorea found a letter I wrote to you
I was begging you to let me drop out of summer school
We laughed
Reading my lies about getting head aches in class
I never liked school
Well except for the girls
I only graduated because you pushed me
Even culinary school you held my hand
It wasn't until trade school I became a man
You were so proud of me to step up and do it on my own
It's hard with you not here
Even at thirty I turn to you
To listen to my dreams
Applause me on my daily accomplishments
Giggle over my crazy adventures on the waterfront
It isn't until late at night when I remove my mask
When the worlds a sleep and nobody can hear me
Closing my eyes just to sit with you for a moment
I still feel connected through my spirit and soul
My mask sits on the coffe table
covered in my tears of days past
Awaiting morning to wear it another day and face the world as the warrior you raised me to be

Clayton Taylor Aelbers

The celebration of life for my mother
Valerie B. Taylor
Will be held at 1928 west Broadway
Nov. 8th 2-8 pm

Casey Wolf said...

Thank you Clayton for showing us this poem and sharing your grief and love for Valerie with us. I read the poem at the Kyle class and it was hard not to cry along with you.

We'll be there. Let us know if there is anything we can do.

Addena Sumter Freitag said...

Thank you for sending me posts about Valerie.
Clayton's poem is so beautiful. As I read it ...

I feel I am beside him as he goes through Valerie's belongings
And holding
And stroking items
as the memories
Come flooding forth
Washing over him like giant waves

It is so beautiful to know how aware he was of his Mothers love
And how grateful and proud he was to receive it.
I picture them laughing together
And enjoying the love and connection they feel for each other
I am glad he has his mask to protect him from the pain
And keep his spirit safe
Until he can face the world without it.

I wish for Blessings for Clayton and his family
He was lucky to have a Mother that loved and encouraged him so'
And gave him the soul of a warrior.

I'm sure Valerie's family and friends were blessed to have her in their lives as well.

Rest in Peace my fellow poet Valerie
We send you love.
Let your Spirit soar!