There were perhaps 200 people at her funeral. The church was packed, even more than it had been 18 days previously when she walked down the same aisle arm in arm with the very same vicar before she watched her eldest daughter marry.
We stood there at the pulpit LJM1 & I, and read her eulogy. We took it in turns, a paragraph each. I laughed at recalling a memory involving a donkey. I didn’t cry, not until everything was over and we were outside the crematorium. I felt remarkably strong, just as she had been when confronting what was facing her.
She didn’t tell us she was dying. We knew there was no cure and that she was running out of options but she hid it well (she had planned to tell us but she didn’t have as long as she thought in the end). It’s not as though you can prepare yourself anyway; knowing outright wouldn’t have made it any easier. She made sure she left plans, made things straight forward. Shortly after her death I found a notebook in which she listed the steps to go through. She thought of everything: bank accounts, death registration, pension. I remember touching the page of the notebook where her hand probably rested. She also told me something one afternoon in LJM1’s old bedroom. I don’t know why we were in there but we were gazing out of the window looking down the street and she told me to help our dad find someone else. I kept it to myself for a long time, until it was needed. Even when faced with the most horrific outcome for herself, she made a decision that would have broken her heart to vocalise. She was truly selfless.
One of the RAKs that is in the pipeline got me thinking about her eulogy and about living obituaries. I wish she could have heard what we said and I wish she could have read everything we’ve written about her in this blog. Perhaps then, we should take the time to write a living obituary to our loved ones? Show those around us how much we value them now in the present day and not wait until they are no longer around to hear what we have to say?
Perhaps we could use it as a self-evaluation tool? What would people say about me? What would I want them to say? We encounter self-evaluation in work all the time, but realistically how many of us evaluate ourselves & try to improve ourselves in our day-to-day lives? We don’t set ourselves ‘targets to improve’ bar an often light-hearted New Year’s Resolution that lasts a couple of weeks. Perhaps it’s time we did. I guess that’s what we’ve done these past 11 months. We’ve definitely thought about others in a different way, looked into their lives more and tried to understand them. But what about when our initial project is over? It certainly won’t be the end… It’ll soon be time to evaluate and improve once more!
Despite my previous post being about grief and losing her, it’s not something that I talk of often at home. However, I have had chats with my biggest little one about her, about mummy’s mummy.
So it was somewhat out of the blue that, in a brief moment of Sunday-afternoon quiet, Little LoveJoinMe1 piped up, “Please can I go up the big rock (where her ashes are spread) to say goodbye to mummy’s mummy because … because she, what’s it called? Is it died? Because she’s gonna … died?”
I was so taken aback. I gestured for him to come and sit next to me and I hugged him while I said “She’s already died”. His response was a simple “but I didn’t say goodbye!” I explained how she died before he was born, “was I in your tummy?”, “No, before that”.
I’m not sure where it came from. But more and more he is showing me his perception, his emotional intelligence and at not even four and a half years old. It’s reflected in the tone he uses, a gentle voice, quietly probing because he knows it makes mummy sad.
We were telling daddy about our conversation later and as Little LJM1 said “I didn’t say goodbye”, his father said, sadly, “you didn’t even get to say hello”. Neither he nor Little LJM1 have read my previous post on grief yet this is precisely what I had written about. He didn’t get to say hello. Hellos are infinitely happier than goodbyes. This makes me saddest of all. My little boy: he sees it with a clarity and gentleness beyond his years. He makes me proud and he makes me want to tell her.