On this day...
You arrive in the town too early and sit in a cafe, feeling nervous and tired. You want to be there to show your support but you are afraid: afraid of crying, of saying the wrong thing. But then you think, "what could I possibly say that could be worse than that which they are going through?"
You arrive at the church, sign the condolence book and take a service booklet. You look at the photograph on the front and feel the tears welling up, "Not already, take a deep breath". You find a seat.
You hear the bagpipes leading the coffin into the church, and there it is and there the family are. Another deep breath. Then it begins and soon enough it is time for the tributes from family and friends.
MissC gives a heartbreaking, funny, breathtakingly honest tribute as only children can. In its poignant bewilderment, chaos and longing, it sounds like Adrian Plass and Reverend Adam Smallbone (Rev) got together to pen it.
Then ElizabethB gets up and begins. The opening sentence draws laughter, a small cheer (from yours truly) and clapping. Then you are transported into a life, a marriage. And you, commitment phobic that you are, sit there delighted and envious and in awe of the commitment and love that has been poured into this shared existence. That there are people out there who take those vows "for better, for worse", "in sickness and in health" and then live them out in all their glory and heartbreaking reality.
And then she finishes and along with everyone else you are wiping away tears and smiling and clapping, and feeling not so afraid because you have witnessed a love stronger than death.
Then the bagpipes lead the coffin out, the family following and you pray for them. That their simple goodness and love and hope will see each other through the coming dark and scary times and they will emerge into that space of being able to say, "All shall be well" in this new reality, this new life.
And when you leave the church, exhausted by all the emotion, it is strange to see people just going about their daily, ordinary lives. And you think, "Cherish this life" as you pass by. And then you go into a gallery and though a doorway you see a painting of a beautiful landscape and begin thinking about passing over that threshold into heaven.
And as you sit on the train coming home, you listen to Eddi Reader and think of Scotland, the Breakey clan and all you saw and did and felt...on this day.
(For ElizabethB, MrE, MissC and MrA with much love and many prayers)