She was out of reach but I could see her. I was standing up at the front of the room and she was sat three rows back next to my two children. I felt strong. Proud. Together…but alone. I hadn’t seen the room before so was surprised at the distance. And the desk in front of me had the microphone so I felt I needed to stand next to it. But I could see her.
I had known this day was coming for just over three weeks. I just didn’t know how it would be, how I would feel, how we would cope. It was my dad’s funeral on Friday.
We all knew we would arrange and run the funeral ourselves. We are all so like my dad in so many ways. I wanted to do the welcome and the close. And I wanted to take responsibility for making sure the music we chose together was played at the right time. Both my sisters and my brother spoke beautifully and passionately about our dad. And all the grandchildren stood up as a group and talked wonderfully about their granddad.
It as the funeral we wanted it to be. Everyone said what we wanted to say. We all did what we wanted to do. There is no good or bad scale for funerals. They just happen. We recognised and we celebrated. And I know my dad would have been so proud of us all.
Carrying his coffin was harder and took longer than I expected. The room we were in was longer and thinner than I had expected. And I soon found myself standing up at the front welcoming and thanking everyone.
We had chosen music that meant something to us and we felt told the story we wanted to tell. True Love by Bing and Grace. It seemed so appropriate. I pressed the button and waited. There seemed to be more talking at the start than I expected. And as I looked out it seemed that no-one could quite recognise what they were listening to.
And then the singing started. I breathed deeply. I looked up. Everywhere I looked there were tears. I could see my mother sat on the front row but I knew I couldn’t look at her. I could see my wife, three rows back, with our children. She was further way than I thought she would be. She was much further away than I wanted. She was so much further away than I needed her to be. I breathed deeply.
I don’t really understand the impact of music on our memories or emotions, but I do know it is real. Sometimes it is those first familiar notes, sometimes the first words…but the impact always happens. I guess that we know music is never threatening and is always a source of expectation, anticipation and pleasure. Music conjures up images and feelings.
Standing up in front of my dad’s family and friends…my family and friends…on Friday, I could see memories, emotions and tears filling the room.
The song finished, we all breathed deeply again…and somehow we moved forward together.
As our last hour together finished and the final music started to play, I pressed the close curtains button in front of me. I turned and looked over my shoulder one last time before my dad was gone, I said good bye and I told him I love him.
We walked outside and I looked for my own true love. I found my daughter first and then my son. I hugged them both. I found my wife. I held her tight. I held her close.
Love forever true.