Miriam Hyman Remembered

In response to requests from students to know more about Miriam as a person, an abridged version of a blog by her friends shortly after the bombings is reproduced here.

Stories of those who die in violence can best be told by those who love and value them, from the viewpoint of how they lived and not only of their deaths. Miriam lost her life on 7th July, 2005 in a terrorist attack on the bus bombed in Tavistock Square, London, but her spirit and her name live on to be a blessing to others.

Miriam was born in University College Hospital, London in 1972. She grew up in north London, enjoyed her school and university years, and graduated from University College London in 1994. She worked as a picture researcher and manager, sourcing pictures to illustrate books.

As Miriam’s immediate family, what we miss most is her close companionship. A trusted confidante, she brought great joy and laughter into our lives by continually finding life funny in many small ways. We are deprived of her loving presence and learning together and from each other.

Miriam had many talents. While always widening her circle of friends, she kept her old ones. She was socially caring, inclusive, and vivacious. Her vibrance was reflected in her gift as an artist, and she used her art work to make greetings cards, paintings and jewellery as unique gifts for friends and family. She worked with equal ease in wood, clay, silk and paper and was inspired by the work of other artists and from Nature itself. Her love of the countryside often took her out of London - hiking with friends and enjoying the colours, the smells, and the atmosphere, whether this was brilliant sunshine, mists or snow. Her curiosity about people with different traditions, histories and culture remained insatiable and she got great satisfaction from her travels and the times she lived abroad.

Our pain and loss is immeasurable but our comfort lies in the fact that the love and compassion that Miriam generated in her life is now being passed on in two ways through the Miriam Hyman Memorial Trust. The first is her living memorial – the Miriam Hyman Children’s Eye Care Centre located at the L V Prasad Eye Institute in Odissa; a place of hope, healing and rehabilitation for children with vision problems, irrespective of the ability to pay. Secondly, is her legacy – Miriam’s Vision – a high quality education resource for all schools and education establishments to deal with violent terrorism in a safe atmosphere. The intention is that the values and messages expressed here - of responsible citizenship, an appreciation of those from other backgrounds, and caring for those in less advantaged situations - should have a life-long positive influence on school children.

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Those who knew Miriam well, her family and close friends, tell us about the qualities and the memories which made her a unique and very special woman who lost her life on 7/7, and should not merely be remembered as “one of 52 innocent people killed randomly”.

Judith: “Miriam amassed friends like a magnet. And she kept them too. A truly successful person is one who really cares about how they treat others and how they make them feel about themselves.” Jonathan: “This is both an exceptional tribute to Miriam and a remarkable counter-cultural definition of success which the entire world needs to hear.”

Chris: “Her enduring warmth, unquenchable interest in your life and an overwhelming sense of how to make you feel special made me seek her out often, always marveling at her thoughtfulness and generosity. Over the years that passed we shared our interests in science and art, visited galleries and museums, made our friends mutual and saw each other through the ups and downs of life”.

Keren: “Miriam and I have known one another since we were six years old. Our first meeting was on the climbing frame at the back of her garden. Together in infant school, we watched tadpoles become frogs. As adults, we shared our joys, our sadness and our everyday over endless cups of latte. Mim was a beautiful and earthy woman. She was an unconditional constant in a world of many variables, and only recently, we laughed when agreeing that our friendship would still exist at the age of 90.

Shortly before the bombings Miriam emailed to say that as midsummer was approaching, we should celebrate by meeting on top of Primrose Hill at dawn to watch the sunrise. And that’s exactly what we did. At 4.30am on Tuesday 21st June 2005 we were on top of the hill, waiting for the first sunlight to gradually rouse a sleeping London. What absolute madness it was to be up there at this time, and what absolute pleasure Miriam derived from it. How we laughed at what we were doing, and how that laughter filled us with life.”

Jonathan: “To be a witness to wonder is one of life's greatest privileges, and it's a testament to a person's spirit that he or she should care about such matters.”

Katie: “I personally go back with Miriam for over 20 years. Always a constant in my life. Always my support. The person who made me see clearly, made me appreciate little things, made me laugh, made me feel special.

It is rare to find a friend like that. So much joy. Looking back, remembering the good times. Remembering the laughter. Let us never forget her wonderful qualities and use them to create a better future. To be positive. To look to the future with strength – to create good out of wrongdoing. Let us keep her name alive and use it to make someone else’s world better – something Miriam would always do.”

Jonathan: “Above all I’ve been deeply moved by the love which has surrounded Miriam, even now after her death. The love comes from Miriam herself, who had a gift for friendship, for appreciating beauty, for generosity and for life. Nothing gave her more pleasure than to give happiness to others. To bring us back to what really matters is truly inspirational.”

Stephanie: “Thank you Miriam for guiding me from hatred to love, simply by listening and caring.”

Christine: “Those who are loving and loved remain immortal in the thoughts and hearts of those whose lives they touched. I am struck by how all who came into contact with Miriam seem to cherish her for the same reasons: her kind and loving nature, her hospitality, and generosity of spirit.” Chris: “In her short life Mim touched more people and was a greater force for good than anyone I've ever known. It makes her pointless death all the more tragic. Not only have her many close friends of so many years and her dear family been robbed of shared times still to spend with her, but the many thousands of people she would have gone on to touch in positive ways through her voluntary work, have also lost a better future.”

Esther (Miriam’s sister): “Mim brings out the best in people. I use the present tense deliberately because she is continuing to bring out the best in people. The extent to which she is loved is a source of joy that will endure after this painful time is over.”

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And now from Miriam herself. Extracts of a letter from Miriam to her parents aged 21, while studying for a year at the University of Nice:

“I’m so happy to be alive, to be me – that is, living my life. Sometimes I get this great big rush of freedom and it literally makes me tingle all over. But at other times I feel like retreating because I can’t understand what anything is about, why I’m alive and what the whole deal is. Not in a morbid way, but just in a questioning way...

I’ll never forget the sunsets in Goa and in particular that night when I walked out into the sea on my own. I got a split-second feeling that I was leaving the world behind. But those moments when I was there, time stopped for me and everything fell into place and I was at peace and it was unquestionably the most wonderful experience of my life and the most intense moment that I have known.

“I really don’t have a problem with the concept of my own death, and in some ways I’m so curious that I’m awaiting just that, to see if I still have a consciousness, and if I don’t, then I’ll just cease to exist. I find that a very attractive thought.”