2007 — 12 November: Mournful (and cold) Monday

Time now (07:13) and off to a rousing start with Brahms' Academic Festival overture on BBC Radio 3; beautiful music used to such brilliant effect in a little-known Cary Grant film from 1951 that we both loved: People will talk — do try to catch it if you can. I now find myself wondering, from time to time, how I'm going to feel about watching (solo) films that were previously enjoyed duo, as it were. Time will tell. And assuming I can remember how to switch on1 the TV, of course.

Meanwhile breakfast beckons, I guess, ahead of this morning's appointment at the hospice to pick up Christa's official "cause of death" certificate which is the starting gun that will set the rest of the State's bureaucratic machinery into motion... starting with my rôle as "qualified informant" at the Registrar of births and deaths.2 (It's 32 years since I last had this particular job, for my father. I expect you can guess by now who held my hand on that occasion.)

Hah! Did I say "starting gun?" I've just fallen at the first hurdle! The doctor in the hospice who signed the "cause of death" certificate referred Christa (or, to be pedantic, her physical shell) to the coroner's office for reasons unclear3 to the State's Registrar. So the latter simply couldn't issue a death certificate, nor either of the other two bits of paperwork. I have to return on Wednesday morning at 09:30 to try again. (And if you're keeping an eye on all this, Christa, I'm doing the best I can to stay calm and patient, just like you always wanted me to — trust me!)

By way of minor compensation, I've just got back from a pub lunch with Len and Peter, two remarkably relaxed co-pilots. When I wondered aloud at one point what Christa would have made of my behaviour, Len opined She'd have preferred to see me tucking into a nice meal than sitting alone at home weeping. I have to say he's quite right.

Iris hits the bullseye

Iris has sent me the following text. It is (I'm irresistibly tempted to say) spot-bollock on target. (Sorry, Canon!):

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room, I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the jokes we enjoyed together. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without affect, without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near just round the corner.

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

She'd darn well better be!

Thank you

To the kindly staff at the hospice this morning. To Cathy G for your company and all the material on probate, tonight. To the Lees for the deliciously simple crockpot hot supper. To Len for your help and company today. To tall young Thomas for the phone call. And thank you (again) everyone for the cards and messages of sympathy that are still arriving.

Should you be wondering, I cannot really begin to finalise the funeral details until I have confirmed the whereabouts of both Junior and Big Bro — globe trotters, both. But I can tell you that Christa wants it to be informal, secular, happy, and to feature both Pink Floyd and Stravinsky. She actually said, and fully meant, "If you normally wear jeans, come in jeans." She would have, I assure you. Meanwhile, I need to try the impossible task of describing Her (and our life together) in a way that won't a) cause me to sob incoherently and b) will make my Best Girl as proud of me as I always was of Her. (She better than anyone else knows how shy I am in company.)



1  A joke, people. A joke. But TV has played only a very minor part in the last few months, although we both very much enjoyed the delicious foolishness of Boston Legal and She got to re-watch Her Ab Fab collection.
2  How I've always so enjoyed my encounters over the years!
3  I'm assuming this is just a technicality (which is a strangely euphemistic turn of phrase now that I've typed it). For reasons no doubt connected with patient confidentiality (which seems to be several orders of magnitude beyond watertight in the NHS, reassuringly) the staff nurses at the hospice were unaware of the referral to the coroner. They told me, however, that they think the likeliest reason is to do with the minor surgery my Best Girl underwent at the General when She had the tummy drain valve and tube fitted. There is a technical term for this that Christa learned, but I never got the hang of.