On Saturday 14th of February we learned of the death of a good friend.
Cliff Magill was a rough sleeper, homeless, destitute, down and out, whatever you want to call him. But he was our friend. Late last year he got a house and we loved him. My friend wrote this in tribute:
Today one of the great men passed away,clifford magill, cliff, weecliff, cliffy boy, santa claus, uncle clifford. He meant so much to so many people, though he was estranged from his family, he made new friends he found new families, he touched people's lives.
He was always so full of joy, never failing to say a "what about ye kid?" "how ye doin girl" "Any change (just for laughs)" there was no pride with cliff, no airs and graces he made himself vulnerable, he made himself real, he let people into his life and people in turn responded to the love he gave. His love was agapé love, unconditional. Even when he was sometimes "over the rainbow" on alcohol it made no difference cliff was cliff. He was raw and unashamed, as one of my friends described Belfast as having grotty charm..i think cliff embodied this, sure sometimes he smelt but who cared his gentleness, and joyfulness overcame and you soon too picked up the Jesus aroma.
This guy had barely any possessions, his riches lay in his character and sincerity, that cheeky toothy grin, the big hoarsey laugh, his bluesy voice singing the fact that out of his nothing he'd want to get you a coffee.
And yet I just smile when i think how he now is living in a mansion of gold, free from the temtation of drugs and alcohol, free from people's sneers, free from depravity, he's richer than any of us on earth now. I can't wait to get up there to see him and to here that what about ye kid once again and get a big huge hug.
I also just want to give thanks too for his beautiful heart, his willingness to stand up for other homeless people, to see that no girl was harmed, too see people done right by. How many of us are seeing these simple things through? Cliff happy birthday, I cant wait to party with you in Heaven, i just hope there are plenty of Bishops chip shops that we can sing badly out of tune beside!somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that i dream of, once in a lullaby, cya there kid.
I have my own special memories too:
I remember the first night I met you, I sat down and you offered me your blanket because it was freezing
Your presence gave the street character
Even though you had nothing, you were not short of things to give us
You gave us your love, your heart, your failures and your hopes
Your singing and charm made you endearing to everyone
You tried to get me to 'tap' the passers by and sent me to buy you cigarettes. I teased you about it being uncool to smoke these days.
The patch was not merley a space, a location or a bed it was Our church
Ours to hope, to dream and to see love in action
You bought me a cup of tea, and told me Halowee'n was the best night to be out because it was entertaining to see the 'Young ones having fun'
You told me off for walking without a boy and always made me smile.
I never tasted the coffee and I guess it wasn't the best, but half an hour with you always taught me imeasurably more than the numerous classes you made me late for!
I guess what i'm trying to say is thank-you. Thank-you for the things you taught me, the good times, and the hard times, your smile, generosity and all round amazing character. I hope you've found your place 'over the rainbow' and I can't wait to get to heaven and spend time with you again, maybe i'll even try the coffee!
You were loved. I'll miss you Cliff