Saturday, September 01, 2007

Beauty and Sadness

Mum's funeral was the most beautiful funeral sevice I have ever been to. Which made it harder and easier simultaneously. I can't write much about it now. But three Bishops took the service, there was beautiful singing, dancing, reading, poems. She would have been so proud. And she was there; her shining presence was imbued in it all

I am so very grateful for the many messages and flowers, and donations, and so is the family. I must say that I am very sorry that I was not able to cope very well with returning to the wake straight after the cremation, and seeing so many people there at the wake after the service. It was all a bit overwhelming, when I was so raw from it all.

Over 300 people came, and sang, and prayed, and loved her, as she left us. Afterwards, they gathered to drink to her memory, in the Bishop's garden, whilst my Dad, sister, brother and Uncle and I went to the Crematorium for the last things we had to do. There was a horrible delay at the Crematorium: we had to wait for ages, whilst the family before us finished late. We stood outside, and looked at blackberries growing on stone angel tombs. For ages. Then we went in at last: it was done, and we had to go back to join the other mourners at Mum's wake.

I am sorry that I was not able to reach out to you all who came, when I returned to the wake, or to thank people for coming, as Mum would have wanted. I was struggling to stand up and to see clearly, by then. I was losing it, to be honest. I have to say that part of the day was very hard; going straight into a gathering of hundreds was extremely difficult- for me, anyway - after watching the curtain close on the coffin and it go into the fire. Personally, I wanted to go home and cry privately, and not to talk to anyone, after that. I was not strong enough to smile, and thank people, and shake hands. I wanted to scream, and howl and snivel. Alone.
I felt too exposed. I have never been able to bear people seeing me cry. I know that it meant an awful lot to Dad and everyone else in the family, though that so many people came. And whilst I couldn't cope with strangers, it was good to see friends and J's family.

Afterwards, hours later, when darkness fell, it was more calm. We were so tired, there was a wierd kind of peace: only a few of us, and there was takeaway pizza, and wine, in her scented garden. And we sang, and spoke, and laughed, and drank, and felt her close to us. And that was easier.

Today, J and I went to a friend's wedding. The day after Mum's funeral. A day of joy and celebration. Three hours sleep, the damn nightmares again, yet another night of restlessness and weeping, waking with eyes swollen, then the bloody trains being late, engineering works on the line from Norwich to London, having to take a coach through heavy traffic into London, cheek-biting resentment, meandering cab ride from the station, we're going to be late, hell's teeth. Arriving home.

Scrambling frantically for shoes, feeling the sickening rush of vertigo between worlds, throwing off funereal black and pulling wedding colour clothes off the wardrobe rails, in a rush, in the ten minutes before the next cab arrives to take us to the wedding party. Then arriving at the reception, late, walking into a different lot of smiling strangers, pouring new wine. Asking where we have been. Wondering how to tell them why we're late. Deciding, on balance, it's best not to say.

Seeing the joy in my friend's face.

That being enough.


Blogger Solaris said...

Rachel. Absolutely everyone, meaning everyone will have understood how you felt afterwards. A very tough day, met with courage and fortitude honey. As for reaching out to those who went, who know you here too, well...your words here do that - today's words, months and months of words.

I well remember the wrenching moment of that coffin travelling into the fire, at the Crematorium - my father's cremation was 31 years ago, but I see the image even now. Yet my father stayed on with me, inside, and I feel him still. That moment is not the defining one.

Going to a wedding the day after this is the measure of you. Turning yourself round and being there for someone else, on their day. That's really something - something from which you should draw renewed strength maybe. That's you.

(I have just finished your extraordinary, beuatifully written book, by the way. I can quite see why your dear Mum was so proud of you. I have written a little about it on my blog but will 'review' it in a post in the next few days).


(PS Was posting as Josephine...have now opened a second blog too where I will put my response to your book)

September 01, 2007 7:52 pm  
Blogger Henry North London 2.0 said...

It can't have been easy Rachel, I saw you were online yesterday and wondered why, I had no idea you had had so little time to spend with your family before coming back to the screaming rush that is London and that too on the weekend before the schools go back.

As you say Horrendous timing.

I had wanted to come back to London this weekend too, to just chill out but had been warned by my father that are you crazy? realise what this weekend is? You'll take 7 hours to get to London ( it normally takes two hours if there's no traffic and no police cars/cameras) don't bother you'll get shattered out and I don't want you falling ill again.

I went to the cinema on Friday instead and driving north saw the immense queues of traffic snaking southwards just one mile from home and also snaking back up the other section of motorway and thought eeek Dad was right.

You take it easy now...No posting for a few days and take some rest, and relaxation and not too much whisky its bad for the figure!

Oh and if you need a spare phone sim I have one ( there is no need to go out and get one , there's even £5 quid of credit on it) just find an old phone and I'll give you the spare sim and you can use that as your public switchable off, press and media telephone.

I'll be back in London shortly, as I have to be.

Look after yourself

Henry xxx

September 02, 2007 7:49 am  
Blogger Payasoru said...

"I felt too exposed. I have never been able to bear people seeing me cry. But I felt terrible, because so many people had come for her and I should have thanked them."

Rachel, you weren't 'not crying' for them. You were crying for the loss of your mum. One of the harsh facts of life is that the depth of the pain of loss you now feel is directly proportional to the depth of love you and your mum invested in your relationship.

September 02, 2007 11:45 am  
Blogger Solaris said...

Have now finished your book, and my full thoughts are on my blog Rachel.

When you're ready - and if you're interested...

Like Henry says, take it easy, get some down time...and some space now...

September 02, 2007 12:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Death ends a life, but it cannot end a relationship. All the love and support and smiles you have had from your mother are always with you.
This upbringing has made you the strong person you are today, and it cannot be taken from you.

September 02, 2007 1:56 pm  
Blogger Penny Pincher said...

Going to the wedding was brave. When we are grieving we think the world should be grey, wet and miserable. It can be hard to see other people carrying on as if life is OK, the sun shining when we feel it's all dark, bleak and wintry.
Take care of yourself. We all sending you cyber hugs and kisses. We are here to quietly grasp your hand when you need us. x

September 02, 2007 2:37 pm  
Blogger Peach said...

such difficult stuff, written so well...

September 02, 2007 10:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thinking of you.

September 03, 2007 5:14 pm  

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