I’m sitting in the graveyard as they remove the trappings from the grave and prepare to bury my friend. It rained through the service but now the sky is clearing. It was a long drive here. We just finished the house move the day before. My Mum and I drove over together, and got stuck with no motor oil left, in a small town late at night. A pub owner was astonishingly generous and loaned us his very nice late model car to go find a 24hr service station and buy some. He thought a nearby town would have one but they were closed and unfriendly. We argued through the glass but a clerk refused to let us buy oil. So we wound up driving all the way to our destination then back to the van, left fuel money in the borrowed car and tossed the keys over the pub fence as instructed. We finally arrived at our caravan park at around 3am and went straight to bed. Mum slept, I only caught a few hours. We were lucky, it was quite a pilgrimage to get here.
The service this morning was beautiful. I knew very few people there except a few by name, people aged spoken of to me, sung their praises, told me how much she loved them. It was moving to be among so many people grieving, so many other people who loved her. I passed my contact details to a couple of them. They talked about grief and celebration. They talked about shock and loss and love. They talked about what an amazing, complex, vibrant, vulnerable, strong, generous woman she was.
Many people had the same story I had, that there had been distance and then a recent reconnection. Maybe, if she had known she going to die soon, maybe she wouldn’t have done it so differently. I could feel her so strongly, sitting next to me, embracing me, forgiving me, asking for forgiveness, making me laugh, telling me she loved me. She’s utterly irreplaceable. I loved her.
I wore the pendant I’d made in her memory, and a silver velvet dress she would have loved. I cried. There’s a big hole in my heart, in my future. She was so young. She will always be part of my family. I will remember us laughing together, raucous, raw with sadness and sharp with black wit. I’m not leaving her behind, here in this earth. I’m taking her with me.
And now, home.