Yesterday I said goodbye to a very dear friend. It was awful!

Darren was just 40, but had achieved more in his 40 years, than many twice his age.

Yesterday hit me hard, I felt that our local community of Neath had lost one of it’s legends, our own little superstar and everyone’s friend.

Darren had touched so many lives it was incredible.

He was a people magnet, happy, positive and always striving to help others.

His passion was to see the good in everyone and everything, but always try his hardest to make them better, and bring us all together.

He had so many friends and all so very different. From very different walks of life, and yet he was always the same person with each of them and in every aspect of his life. He never changed to please people, he never wore a mask to fit in. He was unapologetically himself ALL of the time and everyone loved him for it. I suppose you can say everyone envied him for it and would have given anything to be as care free, confident and genuine as he was.

Darren’s death is a massive loss to many people, but I am sure many people are feeling the same as me today, after what I can only describe as the best send off I have ever seen for someone, and completely what he deserved. His Husband Lee did an incredible job, under such devastating circumstances.

Today an empty space sits in my heart for Darren and I know it always will, like for many I’m sure. BUT, what I have learnt from this loss is that life can be so short, so we MUST live it exactly as we want to and to the fullest.

Darren certainly did, and listening to all people said about him yesterday, there was one thing that was very apparent.

Darren stood true to his beliefs and values always, no matter where he was, or who he was with. I can’t say that for many people.

This has taught me that being yourself really does enable you to lead a better life, a happier and more successful life. A life that is truly meant for you, not one copied from someone else. A life of self-acceptance, honesty and integrity.

It is important to do what makes YOU happy, not what you feel you should do. To wear what you want, when you want, to go and do all the things you desire. To live for today, not miss today whilst searching for a better tomorrow. To tell people you love them, to never hold back. To not accept bullshit, but to reconcile instead of regret.

To accept yourself, warts and all, but most importantly believe in yourself and all you stand for, stand tall and be proud of all you have achieved. Never give up on your dreams, always seek happiness.

And finally, act each and every single day with integrity to who you want to be.

If you go tomorrow, how do you want people to remember you?

Your legacy isn’t about how many possessions you accumulated or how much money you made. Your legacy will be how people remember you and how they talk about you after you have gone. The impact you made in the world.

Darren you sure made a massive, positive impact of Love, care and support. You will be in all our hearts forever and I will miss you every single day. But I will remember all you have taught me and how you have made me a better person.

I will love you always, your Friend forever

Emma xxx