Its late in the evening and we’re home from the funeral.
I’m feeling exhausted, tearful and in shock.
An early, frosty start, a good drive but we only just got to the church on time. As we sat down my friend turned round anxiously looking for us, saw us there, and smiled. It was soooo good to see her: I have been missing her dreadfully knowing what she has been going through, and wanting to go through it with her.
She came up and asked me and my sister if we would like to help carry R’s coffin from the church to the grave, with her and her sister, her brother and cousin. I was more pleased and touched than I can say. It was the very last thing I could do for R, and I was honoured to be able to make that gesture: also it made us feel part of the ‘family’. After standing back all week to give others space, it was just what I needed. I was so grateful for the thought.
The sun shone, the sky was blue, flowers were out in the graveyard, and the tiny church was packed. Everybody sang and it was a lovely service: in the same church R had known as a little girl and where she had taken her First Communion. Full circle.
Then time to carry out the coffin. The bearers stood and filed up the church to their places: I stood back to let others past and followed in my turn. Then, just as I reached the entrance to the Chancel where the coffin was lying, the Funeral Director looked very uncomfortable and indicated that he did not know where I could place myself: I asked if he had too many people and he said yes. So I had to turn and, alone, walk back down the church with everyone looking at me, the one ‘turned away at the door’.
It may sound a very little thing. But it mattered to me. I was so upset. I still am. I am trying not to be. I am tired, overwrought and tomorrow it will not feel so bad. R would shrug it off! As my friend said afterwards, R would know that I had wanted to. But I needed to feel I could do one last thing for R, so many people had already done what they needed to do this week, surely I could be allowed to do one thing. But we all know life is not like that, no point repining. Now, that’s an old fashioned word we do not hear much nowadays. And I was not going to spoil things by being upset in public: it was nobody’s fault, just over-eagerness which shows how much she was loved.
But the rest of the day was hard because stupidly I was feeling hurt and unwanted: as if the day was all about me!! Self, self, self. And I found it very difficult to be myself knowing that the people who had had difficulties with me being around were there. Frolicking Lady has been talking about Projection and how it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. She is so right. One woman who has decided that I have a problem with her because of my friendship with my friend, (it is so difficult trying to avoid naming people here) is now indeed causing me to have a problem with her, when I have never had such a problem in the past. Now, knowing her feelings, I am having trouble just being normal when I speak to her. With most people I would just open up and ask what the problem is, can we talk about it and sort it. But I know that this approach will not work with her.
Funerals: the heightened emotions. Difficult.
After the Wake I and my friend snatched a few moments together and they were so precious: my poor friend looked to be in so much pain and so tired, it would break your heart. I think I knew what she needed but I was not able to provide it. She needed a quiet place, to have someone else take off the responsibilities for a while, make her a pot of tea, and give her some TLC. She had been looking after everything, and everyone else, for days, including trying to make sure I was involved too, and it was time that someone else picked up the burden.
But we went back to the churchyard, just the two of us, looked at the flowers, read the messages, looked at the other family graves and I took some photos for her. Then we had to go back, she to a large group of people but hopefully also a big pot of tea, (we were invited but my sister was tired), and a long wait for her flight home, me to rejoin my husband, sister, b-i-l and visit an elderly friend of my mother’s who is very unwell.
As we parted she took my arm and just looked at me and said “You know ….” and I did. Close friendship is priceless. (She is coming over to join me in Paris for a few days, barring emergencies, which will be lovely.)
So, a day of mixed emotions: beautiful countryside, lovely church, wonderful send off for R, old haunts, ill people, old people, dead people.
And knowing that soon, very soon, there will be another funeral.