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Dance, Darcey, Dance!

JimInVA

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852
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Lost a loved one
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Poquoson
Earlier yesterday morning, Darcey passed away peacefully. She did so in a time of her choosing and with a smile upon her face. Next month would have marked the completion of 8 years with ALS. Darcey was tired. Her body was exhausted. And her psyche was beginning to feel bruised and battered. She asked for our permission to bring this life to an end so that she could begin that which comes next. And of course we encouraged her to follow her light.

Darcey asked me to thank the many of you who participate within these forum walls. She rightfully believed that this was my "safe place"... my "private place". She loved the ALSFORUMS for the content that provided answers that helped us both... for the character of those participating PALS and CALS who were the finest anywhere and who gave me strength... and for the anchor it gave those who arrived lost, in shock and who felt as if they were spinning out of control. It was important to her that I pass on her heartfelt THANKS!

Darcey was told in March of 2016 that she was within 6 months of life's end. I can still see the smile on her face as she told the neurologist, "Thank you... but I still have much yet to do!" Although not ready to lay down, she did take his comments seriously enough to write her own Facebook obituary. We worked on it last night. Her making comments and my reading it back with her alteration. I haven't yet posted it on Facebook, but I will post it here, first.

------------

Darcey Gray Bird died on October 20th, 2020 of ALS, or perhaps was hit by a truck as she danced in the street with her electric wheelchair. She is survived by her beloved (and wildly handsome) husband of 36+ years, Jim, and their two incredible children, Jim of Brooklyn, NY and Connie, of Seattle, WA. She grew up primarily in Hampton, Virginia. She graduated High School, went on to The University of Virginia and earned an undergraduate and two graduate degrees (before resigning herself to the fact that she had to face the real world). She lived a full and complete life and left reluctantly… but with a smile on her face.

Sometimes she was fearless. She once faced down an angry teenager armed with a knife, a schizophrenic with a sword, a rapist, and once stepped in front of two policemen to go into a room they were afraid to go into. She managed to be stuck in two different hostage/SWAT Team situations, all somehow without getting hurt or hurting anyone else. In the early sixties, in the South, she held tight to her best friend's hand as the hurricane of civil rights swirled around them, without paying attention to the difference in their skin colors. She stood on a rocky overhang at the Grand Canyon despite her fear of heights [mushrooms may or may not have been involved] and climbed up to the top of both The Empire State Building and The Space Needle. She even rescued a black snake from a sticky trap and found two of Connie’s missing pet snakes (one while driving down the highway). But she was afraid of spiders.

Darcey loved music. She stood on a corner in Winslow Arizona, danced on stage with Chuck Berry, was kissed by Neil Diamond, and street teamed for Joe Bonamassa. She spent hours and hours on the beach watching the waves and listening to their stories. She read thousands of books and left many more yet unread. She felt it was important to keep on learning new things throughout her lifetime, and her recent obsessions were the universe and the atom; and of course, now, politics and current events.

She had magical moments of playing and laughing with her children and got the best hugs ever from them! She saw a ghost, heard a ghost, and according to her daughter actually spoke to one once. Angels were with her every day. Two dogs, Tye and Elsie, loved her fiercely. And her latest dog, Elise, never missed a mornings’ opportunity to smother her with kisses. She loved to crochet and made awesome cheesecake, lasagna, and pumpkin bread. Her favorite smells were vanilla and cinnamon, her favorite sound was waves on the beach, and her favorite color changed with the day and the mood.

In one career she tried to help people out of dark places. In another, she and Jim built MicroHelp out of a room in their home and into a business with a loyal and caring client base for over 32 years. She volunteered almost all her life - with the hospital, church, schools, the library, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Twice she was elected to the Board of Directors of the family’s beach condo, a completely thankless job to be sure. Jim can attest to this, as he did it first. She gave blood, lots of blood, at last count over six gallons of blood. She was a lifetime organ donor.

She voted in every election after educating herself about each candidate. She believed in gun control and felt strongly that while most people have the right to carry a gun, they must earn that right by becoming expert marksmen. She knew too well that people can get desperately sad and angry, and if a gun is nearby, it can become much too easy to use inappropriately. She believed in a woman’s right to have an abortion if she so chooses. Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions, just safe abortions. And she was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ equality. She strongly believed in tolerance, even of those who disagreed with her. Bigotry and hate made her very sad, but she believed very strongly in the power of kindness and compassion.

Facebook gave her a chance to travel, and her friends circle the globe. Music was a passion, and her favorites were southern rock and blues rock (thank you, Joe Bonamassa). Beth Hart was another favorite to sing along with alone in the car. And if the volume was turned up very loud, Darcey sounded really good, or so she said. She met Beth Hart who told her that she was “fucking awesome.” She also adored Carmine Rojas and the feeling was (obviously) mutual. Jim can attest – the world would smile more broadly with karmic delight when Carmine and Darcey were able to share a quick moment, together.

Darcey gave birth to two babies the natural way and once walked around on two broken ankles for a week… but getting a PEG Tube made her (and Jim) cry like a baby. She and Jim knew great love. Theirs is a love story for the ages and will continue for an eternity. He is the one who is "fucking awesome!" The way he cared for her through this challenge showed the world the great man he is and what incredible things that love and compassion can accomplish. They fought through this together. And to everyone who thought Darcey had a good attitude... well, it was because of Jim.

Those two babies grew into amazing adults and she has no doubt they will continue to be amazing. Just watch them be wonderful! They are, in fact, the most incredible human beings who ever were. She and Jim were so privileged to be able to guide them into adulthood. She cannot imagine having to leave them, or Jim, so she just won’t. Not ever.

She loved her parents dearly and her two brothers, who she also counted as friends. And her “friends” were real friends who didn’t jump ship when she got sick. They were truly there for her and made her life very rich, even when she couldn't do much of anything. Thank you for that, for the love, all the visits, the fabulous company, the time, for the laughter, the good food, awesome music, makeup, emails and unpaid labor. Mostly thank you, dear friends for still seeing her as Darcey. You are loved! Very much so.

And Darcey knew she was loved. Well Loved! She felt it and it kept her happy. Be sad she is gone, yes… but mostly be happy she lived. Now go. Have fun! Give hugs! Be kind! And please… always smile!
 

Nikki J

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Mar 22, 2012
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04/2014
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Oh Jim! I am glad she left on her own terms and is free. What a journey! And what an incredibly fabulous care partner!

thank you for sharing.

I am so sorry though. This should never have happened.

we are always here for you

much love
Nikki
 

mpnatx

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Joined
Aug 5, 2014
Messages
356
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PALS
Diagnosis
11/2014
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Texas
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Austin
Jim, I'm so sorry for your loss. My sincerest condolences to you and your family. Darcey was amazing. Thank you for sharing.
 

KimT

Extremely helpful member
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Nov 18, 2014
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Wow, Jim. All I can say is that you and Darcey are both fucking awesome. I'm so sorry for your loss but I know Darcey will be in your heart forever. You were the best caregiver I've ever known. I wish you all the best.

Fly high, Darcey. I'll see you on the other side.
 

ShiftKicker

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Mar 16, 2015
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DX UMND/PLS
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06/2015
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Jim, what a joyful tribute to singular and shared experiences and an absolute celebration of who Darcy is. Thank you for sharing.
 

frankb

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Jun 8, 2011
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558
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Georgia
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Words can't express my feelings at this moment. So sorry for your loss, Jim, but congratulations for your years with Darcey.
 

KevinM

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Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
178
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PALS
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06/2019
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FL
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Tallahassee
Jim, this is one of the most beautiful and inspiring descriptions of a life lived to its fullest I have ever read. The love you and Darcy shared with each other and your family is special beyond words. I have cried tears of sorrow, but mostly tears of joy as I have read, then read again, then read yet again, her incredible story.

It has been such an honor to have read your posts over the past couple of years that I have been on the forum, and I always came away feeling uplifted. May her peace be your peace. Kevin
 

EricInLA

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Oct 20, 2019
Messages
115
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PALS
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01/2020
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CA
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Los Angeles
Wow indeed. You and Darcey are the absolute model of how to live your best under tough circumstances. I am so sorry for your loss, and hope (and suspect) that the memories of your many good times together will comfort you in days to come. Reading this obituary was a true joy - I love the fun, humor, adventure, and love that shines through these words. Truly a life lived well.
 

lisa g

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FORT PIERCE
Jim,
You were a phenomenal caregiver and Darcy was strong and courageous. The love you shared was always so apparent in your posts. My condolences to you and your family. I'm glad Darcy was able to let go on her terms. Her obituary is just beautiful.
 

blitzc

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Apr 20, 2018
Messages
382
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PALS
Diagnosis
01/2018
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OH
City
Massillon
Oh Jim, this has been such a tear-filled and joyful tribute to the life you both lived as one! She was an honorable woman who definately made every moment of her life count. May God wrap his arms around you and your family in love and peace.

Please remain an active participant here, as you have a gift sharing your wisdom in living with this challenge.
 

affected

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love always ❤️
 

Clearwater AL

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Jim, Darcey is now at peace... with time may peace come to you.

That was a beautiful obit. Take care Jim.
 

lgelb

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Darcey's sounds like a fair definition of a life well-lived, Jim, with much joy and passion in her legacy. Thank you for the comforts you provided her, and the perspectives you have shared here.

Best,
Laurie
 

Fusia

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Jim, thank you for sharing Darcy's tribute. It's clear that she was cherished by many, especially you. I'm so sorry for your loss. May all of your wonderful memories of her bring you peace.
 

Bestfriends14

Senior member
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Jim,
Your words, and Darcey's words, are beautiful. I'm happy to hear she got to leave her tired body on her own terms and is now at peace.

Joanna
 
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