I was one of the first people to leave my late husband’s wake.
I turned and surveyed the bar before I walked out the door.
Observing the close knit huddles of our friends and family from every part of our lives. Laughing, remembering, sharing their sorrow and disbelief. “He was so fit and strong. Mick was only 39.” A shake of the head, “Brain cancer.”
Supporting each other.
I could feel Mick’s presence lingering over and around everyone like a soft shimmering mist.
I could imagine him introducing people. Fondly and cheekily teasing friends. Laughing good naturedly as school friends, old flatmates, colleagues and sports mates shared stories remembering his quirks of character.
People had flown in at short notice from all around the country and the world. Most were only in town for a night.
I yearned to listen in to each and every huddle. Soaking up each anecdote and the love. The arms of friends draped around my shoulders.
But I couldn’t be in the midst of each huddle simultaneously.
It was time to leave. It was time to take my young children home. They needed my love and support after such a heartbreaking emotional day. The structure and familiarity of the evening routine was essential for their security and wellbeing.
They needed me to tuck them into bed. If they stirred during the evening I wanted to be on hand to comfort them.
As the bereaved widow and hence hostess, I had greeted and hugged almost every single person at the funeral or at the wake. Maybe four hundred people.
There had not been much time for real conversation. Only platitudes.
Every hug and teary smile had buoyed my spirits. I would take that love with me as I walked out the door.
I reflected upon the day as we drove home.
I had felt surrounded by love yet also disconnected by
- my role as the widow,
- my personal grief and
- my responsibilities as a mother of two bereft young children.
It had been a day of transitional rituals and celebration. Marking the end of one chapter, the beginning of another.
It had been a traumatic time rallying together on the brain cancer rollercoaster. What lay ahead in the next chapter as we grieved? Would I be ok? Would my children be ok? My in-laws? My parents and brother?
Yes, we would be ok.
Our vast community had shown up in force at the funeral. They had come not only to mourn and celebrate the life of Mick but also to remind my family and I of their ongoing love and support for us.
There would be many more opportunities to reflect and remember Mick together.
If you know someone who has lost a loved one. Say their name. Share a fond memory.
It has been five years since Mick passed away and we cherish every time a friend remembers him. It connects and comforts us.