I didn’t want to write this post today. I didn’t want to write it at all. But I have to write it because there is a hole where a friend used to be.

On Thursday, April 21, 2011, we lost a great writer and a wonderful lady. Beverly Barton was everything that everyone has been saying on their blogs, memorials, and tribute pages. She was warm, witty, funny, sweet, kind — I could keep going, but I won’t. Just know that she was a true Southern lady with a load of class and sass.

I first met Beverly when I joined Heart of Dixie a few years ago. Might be 4, might be 5 — can’t quite remember. She was one of the first people to welcome me to the group. She was a star, yet she took time to come over and talk to me for several minutes and welcome me. She seemed truly excited that I was there, and I have never forgotten how good that made me feel. I knew right away that I was going to love HOD.

In the years since, I’ve come to know Beverly as a friend. There are others who were closer, but it was Beverly’s gift to make everyone feel as if they were special to her. Therefore, we all hurt with her loss.

Beverly was a true diva, but only in the good sense of the word. She was larger than life. She was classy. She loved her family above anything else. She doted on her grandchildren. She wrote the scariest damn books in the world. She believed in graciousness. She used cloth napkins and real china because to use paper plates and napkins would be an abomination. She was an amazing storyteller, whether the story was written or just told as you sat around and listened to her.

She did not like to be called Bev. Not ever. Her friends knew better. She was Beverly. She had the most amazing and infectious laugh. She loved sparkly jewelry and always wore the most gorgeous pieces that were color coordinated with her outfit.

I never, ever saw Beverly looking anything other than fabulous. And I have spent weekends with her at our chapter retreat where it would have been entirely understandable to see her less than put together. While I stumbled to the breakfast table with bedhead and no makeup, Beverly at least had makeup on and her hair done.

In digging through my photos, I found this one of Beverly and me at our chapter Christmas party a couple of years ago. We were both highly amused by the fact that she’d worn green and I’d worn red — and our shoes matched our sweaters.

When I sold my first book, Beverly was thrilled for me. I never expected her to read it. But she did. And when she told me how much she loved it, I was in shock. I know she wasn’t just telling me that to make me feel good. Beverly would have never done such a thing. I was and still am honored by her belief in me.

There is a scene in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral where one of the characters, Gareth, has died. At his funeral, his partner, Matthew, reads a poem by W.H. Auden called “Funeral Blues.” It’s a sad moment, but the reading of the poem is so beautiful. When I heard that Beverly had passed, I immediately thought of Auden’s mournful tribute.

I can’t say it better, so I’ll leave you with the poem. Rest in peace, Beverly. You are missed by so many.

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.