Slightly surreal…

We are back home.

Today we spent around 10 hours in the car- driving first to collect Emily from Tocaster, then driving back up to Scotland. The detour to collect Emily was enforced by the chaos caused to air transport by a few specs of dust…

I took the photo above of a sky clear of vapour trails- a rare event these days…

Yesterday was my father-in-law’s funeral. A rather harrowing day- but also full of rather unreal moments, even humourous ones.

One of Michaela’s many cousins following the funeral car on his BMX, with no apparent realisation that anything out of the ordinary was happening- shouting ‘Aunty Mary- that’s my Aunty Mary…

Conversations about all sorts of things that seem to be totally irrelevant to the matter in hand with people that I ought to recognise, but did not. People trying to fill the void with nervous trivia, which serves only as a wafer thin veil of British decorum. And I am partly grateful, whilst at the same time slightly scandalised.

A visit to the graveside later on to be alone and quiet, to discover that the grave next door is being visited by a family who brought their lunch, in the form of chips and mushy peas. One of them lays down their dinner at the foot of Roberts recently filled grave whilst they fiddle with a recently installed set of plastic flowers on the grave of their grandmother. I overhear them proudly describing how they light up at night.

And now I am home. I have almost forgotten what home is like- the last two weeks seem to have stretched over months.

Exhausted- I need to go to my bed (Ahhhh- BED!) but before I do that, I needed to download.

Yesterday I delivered the eulogy at the funeral. The church was packed with people standing outside too.

Robert was a man who had no firm faith- even though he asked questions. He would never see past the starving children and the earthquakes that bury whole villages. So dealing with the end of life, and comforting those around- this had a flavour that constantly brought me up against an inability to be fully open about my own hopes.

I did find a form of words that attempted to gather these things together. I said something like this-

…Today we may have many different ways of understanding what happens to us when we leave this earth.

For some, we live on only in the memories of those who loved us.

All the more reason for us all to cherish our memories of Robert today.

Many others (including me) have a hope that the story of life is not defeated by death.

A hope that there may yet be more laughter and loving and sharing and memories to make.

Death is close to us all.

May it be for us, the next great adventure.

But may there also be comfort and love and hope for those left behind…

More stuff in our local paper…

You may well already know, dear readers, of my recent rather dramatic act of self publicism.

Following this, there was also the rather unfortunate letter published in our local paper, which categorised me as an ‘idiot’.

Today, the letters page of the good old Dunoon Observer is mostly about our family. There were three responses to the letter mentioned above- from 2 of my friends (no money exchanged hands) and also from someone I did not know. The letters bring compassion, common sense, and an understanding of the risks involved in all of life.

Even though I had taken a decision not to reply myself, and had wondered about the point of such a discourse, in the end, I am grateful that the other side of the issue has been expressed so well. Thanks guys!

Also in the paper this week I was very surprised to see a letter from my mother in law Mary!

It was a letter thanking people for their support during Robert’s (my step father in law) illness. Robert has spent weeks in hospital undergoing the first round of chemotherapy as part of the treatment for leukaemia.

What Mary’s letter was referring to was that some folk who meet to pray and talk about God-stuff at our house put together a box for Robert during his time in hospital. It contained lots of envelopes to be opened over the days and weeks he was in hospital- with poems, prayers, sweeties, dvds, books and jokes. It became a ritual for him to open the envelopes each day, and I think (and hope) it was a real blessing to him- and to Mary.

Robert was discharged from hospital on the day of opening of the last envelope. You could not make that up could you?

It makes me want to sing of the beauty of small things, and people who think that life should be about bringing joy to others in a time of great need.

Robert is due back in hospital for more treatment soon- and he is so far away from where we live, if constantly in our thought and prayers. He is probably reading this, and will protest my choice of photo!

I’ll post a better one of you Robert, taken when I next see you!