When you go to univeristy, one of things people will tell you is that 'you'll meet people who will change your life forever', when I met Louise Clancy, that was defiantly true, but, they way she changed my life was not like anything I or anyone else would expect.
I met Louise during the Autumn term of my third year BA in Media Practice, 2015, a term that already had a huge weight on it for me. The previous term had been an absolute nightmare, and I had to spend a lot of time recovering from it, and it made me spend a lot of time wondering what to do with myself.
When the term began, things seemed to be looking up, I had an amazing team to work on my dissertation with, and I was on the committee for two of my favourite societies, and that's where Louise came in.
I first saw and talked to her when I was managing the Anim8s (Animation) and DocSoc (Doctor Who) Fresher's Fair stall on the 16th of September, and as soon as I saw her I knew that she was someone I would see again, she had the same wild-eyed, innocent excitement I had when I first found out about these societies, it's the thing that makes university feel like home to awkward nerds like us, but I really got to know her during an early Halloween celebration for the Anim8s society on the 23rd of October. I saw her there, dressed as Princess Leia from Star Wars, which caught my eye straight away, since it was a great costume, and she looked stunning in it, and with her being one of the few new members who attended, I made my way over to her and we just began talking, and from there, something great happened.
Not a day passes when I don't think of that smile
We talked for hours about our families, our homes, our interests, our lives, our dealing with both having Asperger's Syndrome; and it seemed like we were both very similar, eerily similar, she reminded me so much of me during my first year, curious about everything around her, a bit shy and what to make friends, and always anxious about her work; but it was more galling for her than it was for me in that situation, since not only was she having her first year at Sussex, but she was studying away from her home in Cork, Ireland, something I don't know I could have done, even as an option between second and third year study (though Louise always did tell me that Cork is one of the un-nerdiest cities in the world, and having been there myself this year, I kind of see what she was talking about, so she came to the right place with Sussex, there's more geek culture here than at MCM, Comic-Con and E3 combined).
From that day on, we either talked online or saw each other everyday since, whenever I was going to Anim8s, DocSoc or the Anime Society, I knew I would see her gorgeous smiling face there, she was always the bright light to see after a tough day of organising a short film or writing an essay. She was so sweet and funny, it was like hanging around with a character from a Disney movie, just everything she said and did just made you feel happy and uplifted.
Louise at Anim8s
What made her especially special to me is how she seemed to be the only one who was more madly obsessed with things I loved than me. Talking about Doctor Who, comic books, movies, anime, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Bob Dylan, and YouTube videos, it felt like I finally had someone to talk to about the bizarre and silly thoughts I had and she wouldn't look at me like I'd was some weird idiot. Speaking of which, one of the most amazing things was when I said how my favourite movie was A Clockwork Orange, she went mad for it, I taught her to speak Nadsat, she dressed up like Alex and we watched the movie together, which led me to finally learning what song the drunk homeless man was singing at the beginning (Molly Malone), it just made it a great experience for me to be with her, no matter what we did, ice skating, Halloween parties, watching movies, everything was just amazing having Louise around.
The last time I saw her in person, was during my birthday celebrations on the 12th of December. Because my birthday is only 4 days before Christmas, it makes it hard to celebrate with my friends, since they've all gone home for the holidays at that point, so I decided to celebrate my birthday with my mates before the holidays start. I distinctly remember me and Louise running to the train station to get into Brighton, us standing around waiting for my friends to arrive in Churchill Square, and me almost ignoring the others when they arrived and just spending my time talking with her (sorry if you were there when that happened).
I still have the picture of me and her she got me as a present, it's sites happily on my shelf everywhere I go, and the Stanley Kubrick book and Clockwork Orange t-shirt (though sadly, I'm going to have to loose a lot of weight before I wear it again), and it amazes me to think that in the short time we spent together that we were able to connect so much that she was not only got me presents on my birthday, but get me something I knew I would love, which made it all more of a blow to find out few weeks later that it would the last time I would ever see and talk to her in person.
On the 22nd of December, the day after my actual birthday, and just before Christmas, I was told the horrifying news that Louise and her mother had been killed in a car accident, it's something that I never thought would ever happen, and I never saw it coming, and nor did anyone else, the day she died everyone who met and knew her was shaken, and I was no exception. Everyday that passed once she was gone became more and more painful, and nothing ever felt the same without her, Sussex had lost something by the loss of this wonderful girl, even if she had only been there for 4 months, no one could forget her.
This was the rock that started an avalanche of a bad year for me, it's just been a mess, but there were some good things, I was privileged to work on a short film with a team who, I still rank to this day, were the best team I've ever worked with, I graduated from Sussex with a grade to be proud of, I continued to work on my creative work, and I got the chance to travel around the great countries of the United Kingdom, including being one of the last people to see the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, and trip that, sadly, Louise never got to go on, despite how much she really wanted to go, and all of us at the Doctor Who Society were sad that she wasn't there.
But it was a massive blow, not just for me, but for everyone who had meet her at Sussex, she was the kind of girl who could leave a massive impact on you even if you only met her for a few minutes. We had a memorial for her on the 17th of February, which was a very sad day for all of us who organised and attended it, and also just for anyone who missed her in general, but thankfully the campus chaplain did a great job in helping us do it.
But the best thing was also the worst thing to happen to me this year. Despite the fact that I found someone that I felt I could be myself around completely and lost her so quickly, and that was horrific to go through (and it still is, especially at this time of year) I don't really think she's gone completely. While none of us know what happens after we die, but I think that people don't stray that far from us after they have died, I had an experience that made me think that when I was having trouble working on an essay. Was sitting on my bed, looking for quotes to help back up my arguments, when suddenly, the Stanley Kubrick book Louise got me fell from the shelf above my head and right next to me, and opened up onto a page that had just the quote I needed.
I might just be me looking at things that aren't there and a massive coincidence, but it does feel like Louise is still around, and the thought of that keeps me going through these tough times occasionally, everyone one of those tough times felt a bit less hard from just the idea that someone may be looking out for me when they're gone, it gives me a small bit of hope. But I still miss her more and more everyday, and I'm not the only one, here are some words from people who knew her and miss her too:
Alan Morton (friend from Anime soc): she was a nice bubbly girl and very active with journalism and loved anime as much as we did.
The Team from Worlds Apart and members of the Sussex University Animation and Doctor Who Socitey give their love.
Emily Allen (friend from DocSoc): I didn’t get to know Louise as well as I wish I did during our one term together. I always thought that there would be more time to chat with her and laugh about Markiplier together and theorise about what the new Star Wars film meant and all these other potential things we’ll never get to do. The last time I saw her everyone was exchanging secret santa presents and generally feeling excited for Christmas, and I was distracted when she said that she was heading off. I said absentmindedly goodbye to her and went back to whatever I was doing. I wish more than anything that I’d got up and given her a goodbye hug and told her how much fun it’d been having her around this term, and that even after such a short time she’d become an integral part in our society. That I’d loved having her at almost all of our socials and seeing her sunny presence in whatever we were doing. It’s one of my deepest regrets that my assumption of there being a ‘next time’ stopped me from telling her how important she’d already become to me.
Philip Clarke (friend from Anim8s): I'm sad to have only known Louise for one term, but during that time she was an amazing friend to have. I felt like I could talk to her about anything and she made settling into university so much easier and I will always be thankful to have met such a wonderful person.
Luke Williams (friend from DocSoc): I still remember reading it [a Facebook post Louise made about life at Sussex] and having big respect for the way she hung onto what she knew was the right thing to do, and how much she wanted to be as good a person as she could be. She made a strong impression even without knowing her for very long. Rest in peaceThese are the people that Louise made a connection with, even in a minor sense in some cases, but we were able to make such a great connection during the short time we knew her, because she was such an incredible person.
All these people were touched by Louise's amazing personality, kindness and friendliness, and it just goes to show how much impact just one kind person can have on so many people.
But, whether through belief, or just getting on with life, we all have our own ways of dealing with grief, and for me, writing this eulogy to the best friend I ever had is mine.
And with the all the things I've been through this year, and how scared I'm feeling about the future and having to grow up, the thought of how Louise was able to make everyone's life better just by being in them, and how she was so ambitious and brave despite being so far from her home gives me hope that I can do the same as well.
My condolences go out to anyone else who knew and loved Louise like we did, she will be sorely missed at Sussex.
I'll miss you Louise, and I'll never forget you.