Our Wedding And His Funeral

Our First Dance…

March 7, 2012. The day of Colin’s cremation and memorial service. Cold and wet in the morning as we followed the hearse to Putney Vale crematorium. I did wear black. It’s how I felt. I barely remember the service. I spent most of it with my eyes cast upwards away from the coffin. I listened intently to Robin Griffiths-Jones words. As the Master at Temple Church he had agreed to hold both services for Col that day. His words resonated at the time but I simply can’t remember them. I do know that he fluffed it a little when it came to the children. He mentioned in a prayer that we should pray for Colin’s children’s children and then realised that no, Col was so young, he was not a grandfather, just a young father with two babies. Col had not lived to see his children grow up and see his children’s children. More’s the pity.
I felt sick as we drove away from the building, the flowers that I couldn’t look at and Col’s last remains.
I had decided the day was one of two halves. The morning was the difficult bit. Just family saying goodbye to a good man. The afternoon was about celebrating that man with all that knew him. I changed out of my widow black and put on the jaunty wee dress that I know would have had Col laughing about Eighties air hostesses. He’d probably have asked me to do a mock pre-flight safety procedure routine to satisfy his humour. Perhaps he would have asked me to locate the nearest fire exit or toilets. As I changed dresses I changed my mindset. There was even some laughter as I got ready with my sisters and our close friend Emma Jo. The hair straighteners were as much in use as my breastpump as I wasn’t going to be feeding nine-week-old Isla that day. Overall, I was looking forward to a positive service. The sun poked through the clouds too.
Thinking back I can’t really place what was going on in my head but I was almost excited about it. On the way to the service I spotted friends walking towards the service. In a very unwidowlike way I hollered to them from my taxi. Waving frantically. Odd behaviour I realise now. Oh well.
His memorial service was beautiful. The music, the words from Robin, Baroness Shackleton, or Fiona as Col always called her, did a moving tribute and I spoke mine despite shaking knees and a very wobbly Prime of Miss Jean Brodie voice. It was obviously sad but there was laughter through the tears. Col was not a solemn man so this in itself was fitting.
The strangest thing about the memorial is at every step of it there were echoes of my wedding day. Perhaps this was because our wedding had only taken place three and a half years before but the similarities were strange and massive. Walking down the aisle, being held together by my father, this time mum was with us too though. Seeing all the people we loved in one room. Catching people’s eyes as I walked towards the front. It was like being an anti-bride. The two events shared a hymn, my choice, Lord of all Hopefulness. And I could almost hear Col belting his way through his favourite hymn too. He loved Jerusalem. Totally inappropriate probably for what essentially was a funeral but why not?
The bit that was most like a wedding though was the gathering in Middle Temple Hall. On our wedding day we had so many people to talk to and see that Col and I spent much of the day on the other side of the room from each other, working our way through the guests. The memorial day was the same but he wasn’t on the other side of the room catching my eye every so often with a smile, a laugh or a swig of champagne. People weren’t hugging me and saying congratulations, they were struggling not to cry, trying to find the right words and the congratulations had been replaced with terrible phrases that mean nothing really like, ‘how are you bearing up?’. I kept losing my glass of champagne and I kept up a smile for most of it, to the point that I had faceache by the end of the day just like I did at the end of July 19, 2008. But instead of running out together into a waiting taxi at the end of, what we both said was, the best day of our lives, I took a black cab home with my mum and dad and gathered up my fatherless children from the ad hoc daycare I had organised for the day. The similarities between wedding and funeral end there.

6 Replies to “Our Wedding And His Funeral”

  1. Thinking of you. I love reading your blog. I can so relate to you as I lost my husband last September and my twin boys were 19 months old at the time. It’s a daily struggle of highs and incredible lows just miss my husband, soul mate and best friend in the whole wide world so much. He died from Cystic Fibrosis aged 33. I was 34 (now 35). I am on Facebook it would be be good to talk to you. Much love you and your girls. You sound like an amazing woman! Love Caroline Grace Smith xxxxx

  2. Your blog echoes my thoughts n feelings n I thank you for that. Today would have been my wonderful husbands 50th birthday, another first, another difficult day. The children want to send some balloons to daddy later and go for a birthday tea so that’s what we’ll do, a celebration of what should have been. Keep smiling xx

  3. Your post really struck a chord. I remember walking down the ‘aisle’ at the crematorium holding my daughter, just five months after our wedding. Many people hadn’t seen me since I was dressed as a bride, and it was the first time they’d seen the baby. Very weird echo of my wedding day, being the centre of attention but for all of the wrong reasons. Such a surreal time, thinking of you today…x

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