Death, Here Is Thy Sting

On Sunday there’s a memorial service for Caroline. She died just before Christmas last year and I still keep expecting to see her in Marks and Spencer somewhere near the veg counter.
It’s been a year of deaths.
My dear friend Maria lost her mother recently. Afterwards she wrote to me: “The funeral was very much like her. We all felt it matched her life perfectly. So we were all comforted by it.
And the funeral brought to us all her friends and all our friends and, thus, we were, and are, surrounded and supported by their love and by the different aspects of her personality they unfold before us.
I feel grateful to have had her as a mother and as a lifelong honest, generous and loyal companion.”
A good funeral then, but I can’t read Maria’s words without welling up. That awful disorientating period of adjusting has begun. There is no way back.
My friend Celia also lost her mother. For some weeks we had the dying mothers conversation, and Celia’s Mother was the one identified as being on the road with no return, with Mother merely frail in second place. Then Mother suddenly accelerated, sped into the fast lane and died first. Celia was, by chance, one of the last people I spoke to in London before heading East for those final days.
However, Maria’s mother, Celia’s mother and Mother were much of an age, in their nineties. Their deaths hurt but they were, to put it crudely, on the cards.
Not so Caroline. You do not expect someone who has gleefully booked a holiday to Australia with a planned itinerary of vineyards to visit to die the following morning shortly after a breakfast she had not felt well enough to eat. The wrongness of her death rankles.
The memorial sounds great. Apparently there’s to be a break halfway through for champagne, though abstainers (did Caroline know any abstainers?) can have tea to fortify themselves for the second half. Notice the third person there. I don’t drink tea. There’ll be music, photographs, stories, lots of laughter which I imagine will be overlaid with tears. It’ll be a day to remember.
They say you live so long as someone remembers you, and I suspect I’ll still be expecting to meet Caroline beside the cabbages for a while yet.

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26 thoughts on “Death, Here Is Thy Sting

    • Inevitably, as some of my relatives move into their nineties, these occasions are going to happen. I am lucky that I see them and have news of them now.
      Someone else I know has died recently. She was only 65 and looking forward to her retirement.

  1. I understand the feeling. Last year around this time I lost a good friend who was only in his thirties. It just feels so wrong when people die so young. My condolences.

  2. A year to be endured.. and adjustments to be made for a long time yet, Isobel. Remembering talking laughing and crying is all we can do. “Wrongness” seems a good way to describe inexplicable and shockingly early demise. I hope the celebration of Caroline’s life is a fine one.

  3. Isobel – I’m very sorry for the loss of your friend and you mother recently. I apologize if this isn’t the best place to put this, but I saw your September post on Laurel’s (Rockin’ the Purple) blog, wondering where she has been. I’m pretty sure Laurel has not been looking at her blog of late because she’s been having a pretty tough go of it lately, and has also experienced great loss recently. If there is something I can pass on to her for you, I would be happy to, as I am in contact with her in other ways.

  4. I remember when your friend died last year. I guess no death is ever easy, but sudden deaths do seem – unreasonable.Her memorial sounds wonderful though, and no, I don’t drink tea either, so champagne all the way. It sounds like she would have liked that notion. I hope it’s not too painful a time for you – too many sad memories for you this year. I’m sorry.

    • It was great. See next post. She was quite shy, so may have been troubled by the limelight, but I do hope she would have enjoyed the tenor of the affair, and sure she would have endorsed the lunch in the wine bar afterwards.
      I think memorials are Good Things.

  5. Death when unexpected can take so much from you. The worst part I found was that it took away the chance to say goodbye. So…with champagne in hand…remember and remember to smile that you were among the lucky one…you knew her. I will be thinking of you Isobel.

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