Friday, 26 June 2015

Beautiful and hideous

A week ago I was surrounded by people trying to laugh through tears. I was at my brother's funeral. Tonight it's my first evening on my own since his death. I've been surrounded by loved ones for the past few weeks but tonight Bean is out with his boys and I finally have a few moments alone to think without fear of upsetting anyone. My thoughts run fast and fearful. How could someone young and healthy die so quickly?

Rich's funeral wasn't meant to happen this way. We were all meant to be old with zimmer frames and urine bags strapped to our legs. Your grandchildren were meant to be singing your favourite rock song, currently in the charts as John Lewis made it into a plinky plinky Christmas ballad for their advert with two pangolins falling in love. (You were meant to go to Download this year and so I'm going with Slipknot as the writers of the song). We were meant to know how you wanted to say goodbye - did you want to be turned into a diamond or exploded as a firework? We were meant to know so much more and now the slow realisation attacks us in waves of grief. We miss you and we can never make you smile again.

On the day of his funeral, I went with Bean and his sister to the funeral directors. Of course I've seen dead bodies before. I've seen that single moment where life becomes death. I've apologised to dead patients whilst I've shone a light in their eyes and listened to their chest to ensure "life was extinct." Yet this was different. It was Richard, the guy who was just meant to be lost in a shopping centre or indulging in off-piste fun in France. He wasn't meant to be lying in a coffin. It's a cliché to say he looked peaceful but he really did. Looking like a British officer in Africa ready to shoot, albeit with film rather than a blunderbuss, and a tiny smile on his face, he looked like Richard. My brain still can't process that it was actually him lying there. I kissed his forehead and left his siblings to say goodbye.

The funeral was to be colourful yet it was with a heavy heart I put on my favourite dress, favourite hat and favourite heels. Usually, I'd been twirling but today I was trying to work out which of my mascaras were waterproof. Somehow we arrived at the crematorium and I watched as his surviving brothers and his best friend readied themselves to carry a coffin. Richard arrived in a hearse covered in flowers and my heart broke as his was carried in and his parents followed.

And then we sat to listen hear about Richard from those who knew him best. Oh my, his friends loved him so, his sister spoke such beautiful words and his mother conjured a world of Richard that made us laugh and cry. I spent most of the service looking out of the window onto the vast expanse of green, half hoping that I would see Richard walking across and tippng his pith helmet to us all.

Alas, he didn't make an appearance and I tried to concentrate on the service but the officiant sent my mind racing, I found it very difficult to listen to someone who didn't know Richard at all to speak about him. I know he was being kind and gentle and caring. He was a lovely man but I found it particularly hard to hear that Richard was now, "immune to hurt, pain and suffering," Yet that is part of life. A life that was too short a life that deserved more. I feel so selfish that my head wants me dead. I feel the pain but I'm told that happiness and joy are also possible. I guess I just wanted Rich to feel both again. 

We slowly said our goodbyes, watched the curtains close and walked away listening to Muse. 


Returning home without Richard but with him everywhere still didn't make things feel real to me. Perhaps in the coming months our grief will move into acceptance, not yet, not yet.

I did what I knew I could do, I made tea and coffee. So many people filled their home, it was truly heart-warming. From his colleagues (and flowers from his clients), to friends from his youth to best friends now, everyone learnt something new about Rich. From krav maga and cave trampolining to his love of cats (somewhat precluded by his allergies) and art deco architecture. 

As the crowd slowly thinned, the sadness washed over again. My heart is so sad. Richard, I'm so sorry if I don't make it. I'm trying but it all seems so wretchedly pointless. I'd would swap you for me, right now. There is such evil in the world right now, too many innocent people dying. We will all miss your light.


There's that pith helmet and cake for he loved the cake.

Yes his funeral was beautiful and hideous but it was only au revoir, he will always be with us.

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