Tom was one yesterday and we cremated my aunt.
And that, for me, has to be one of this year’s most unexpected sentences.
It was a day (to use a football analogy for the first and last time in my life) of two halves:
The first was lovely – Tom’s first birthday, Tom’s first experience of being given gifts to open and the last time he will ever receive birthday gifts without at all knowing quite why he’s been showered with them and without any hope or expectation of what they might be. Next year I suspect he will be a little more knowing, a little more sussed, and while that is fine and lovely too (and I can’t wait to see it) there was something very special indeed at witnessing his surprise and wonderment at this, his very first birthday.
And to use an old cliché, my aunt made her final journey – a slow, respectful last drive through beautiful October sunshine to the crematorium where a mere 4 years ago we buried her mother / my Nan. Last words and the last committal from the vicar and it was done. They say that each time you go to a funeral you remember all the funerals you’ve ever attended and everyone you’ve ever lost.
Well, let me tell you, it’s perfectly true.
Due to the ghosts of old family rows and resentments, the occasion was tense. Emotions were high. There were dark undercurrents and groundswells that only a true occultist would have been able to read. But nothing overt. And thankfully the event passed without a hard look or a snide comment from anybody. All as it should be. What use family arguments now? What use recriminations? Time to remember. But also time to let go and move on. Everybody has to deal with their own trouble. It’s best to wish them well and deal with your own.
It was good to get back home again afterwards, to the kids, to my favourite place on the sofa, to the next round of presents. To a precious normality.
Little boys with blue plastic diggers... what could be more happier and more right?
Birthdays are precious things.
I aim to be grateful for every single one.