2007 — 26 November: drizzly cold Monday

Time (08:23) and this morning's next official lesson on manoeuvring is coming up shortly. Peter's asked me to wake him when I go; I suspect he's going to make the meds and other stuff disappear while I'm not here to be so dreadfully churned up about it. Good lad!

Speaking of churned up... Judging by my various tummy gurglings and other symptoms three hours ago, he was also correct in his assessment of the underdone state of the breakfast eggs yesterday. But I believe they say that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger... I'm still here at 17:42!

Life? Don't talk to me about Life!... department

Nonetheless, life still lurches on. I called in on the funeral director this afternoon, and learned that he was out on his errand to bring back Christa's ashes for me. As I said on Saturday, part of my "mourning" will be to scatter these in a variety of our favourite places. Another will be to continue this diary as my own form of therapy.1 And another is to share via this diary the precious pictures I have of Christa. Here, for example, is the very last one I took, on 13th October — the Saturday less than two days before she went back into hospital.

While Peter was visiting. I made the footstool when I was nine!

She never came home again, of course. Dammit, she never even sat in the new car she gave me for my birthday the next day! But you can see she still managed a smile, having Peter at home with us that weekend. My Christa was a brave and wonderful woman.

I suspect it may not sound much like it, but I am trying to avoid self-pity... However I'm awfully tempted to agree with my friend Graham's opinion: Life is unfair at times! Or, even if it isn't, it surely feels as if it is... Graham lost his wife Sally just a week after I'd lost Christa. I truly can't say whether I envy him the comparative brevity of his dreadful cancer "journey" compared to ours, but my thoughts are certainly with him now as he faces Sally's own funeral service this Thursday.

Driving onward... department

In other aspects of my life, my driving instructor has very kindly volunteered to get me a pair of little stick-on circular mirrors for the two wing mirrors to help out the blind spots, having seen how easily I can make a mess of "reverse bay parking". And (providing I can pick it up tomorrow morning) I should shortly thereafter also have a replacement plastic light cluster2 fitted to the rear of my beautiful (but slightly foxed) birthday present.

This afternoon's Mourning observations

As I said a week ago, I'm still very new to this mourning business. While I certainly hope the funeral service — a public acknowledgement of the reality3 of Christa's death — gave comfort to those who loved her, I have to observe it was still a rather bitter pill for the two Mounces most closely connected to her to swallow. I was honoured and proud to be able to say the things I said, and grateful (so very grateful) for the kind and beautiful things that others said to me. But I have to confess, as my son and I discussed the event over the weekend, we concluded it had brought the two of us very little joy. Perhaps it's the price we pay for our secular opinions. Even the comfort of seeing all her friends has proved to be a transient one. Life looks pretty damned bleak right now, people. The Guardian crossword is a very feeble comfort!

My friend Gill said in a note afterwards that if you strip away the "religion" from a typical funeral service, there's actually nothing left.4 She added:

I thought [the service] was absolutely beautiful. The settings were simple, the words loving and on point — echoing the hearts of all present — and your and Peter's solidarity in sadness beautiful if somewhat sob-inducing. And no ghastly hymns for us to have to try and get past the lumps in our throats (for which relief much thanks!!!!) I know she'd approve of all of it (apart from the aching sadness which we all felt which she was never going to be able to escape I'm afraid)!


My friend Mike said:

Your celebration of Christa's life today was beautiful, and I am proud and grateful I was there to experience it with you... I personally felt so utterly, emotionally drained by the event at the crematorium, I was ready to burst into tears at a moment's notice. I was physically shaking by the time we left... The service was completely non-religious, and all the more poignant for that, as it wasn't disguised and swamped in the "gone to a better place" mumbo jumbo. In fact, that's it in a nutshell; this was the first funeral I could actually relate to because it was real, starkly real and completely from the heart... No, what cut through to me, deeply, was the way you handled the event. You took it and made it completely yours, Peter's and Christa's. Which is why I was so moved; we, the audience, were being treated to [a] view [of] the tragedy from within your family, and it was [expletive deleted!] painful and poignant. And real.


My friend Cathy (who lost her husband Simon last year) sent me a brief text message (yes! I have gone mobile!):

Just wanted to say again that I thought it all went very well and the music worked beautifully. Very moving.




1  Having lost my best friend, I find writing about her (and maybe even to her) very comforting. The "books" on grief assure me that's "normal" much as I might wish not to be "normal". Mind you, I've written enough books to know that authors don't know everything...
2  It seems a Test examiner is free to refuse to take the car out unless this is fixed. One examiner said he wouldn't be worried, but I really don't want to miss my test slot (and pay another £58) on what's basically a technicality, do I?
3  Settling the funeral director's account will help firmly ground me in reality, I assure you!
4  I don't quite agree. There's usually a trite observation along the lines that those present will never forget the "departed" one. As if we would!