Yesterday I went to a funeral for a woman I didn’t know. Now before you start leaping to the conclusion that I am some creepy voyeur, let me explain the connection.
This woman has a son that goes to the same school as my boys. Although I don’t know the lad myself, he is obviously a well-liked and respected teenager, a fact that was evidenced by the many teachers and students who attended his mother’s service. It was a touching sight to see a generation of stoic young men in pressed and tidy uniforms, shaking hands with and hugging their friend. Outside it was overcast and drizzling yet sunglasses were still worn as boys with extremely red eyes struggled to contain the tears.
The husband and father was someone I did know, albeit briefly, over twenty-five years ago. We were work colleagues in a small family business and poles apart in our personalities. He was a quiet, softly spoken, gentle man with a passion for acting. I was a loud, boisterous boofhead with a fondness for football and beer. We never became close friends. In fact, I don’t think he even recognised me at the funeral when I shook his hand and commiserated his loss.
So why was I there? I didn’t know the deceased. I knew of, but had never met the son. And the husband had no recollection of our relationship.
The reason I went to a funeral for a woman I did not know was because of the memory I have of a man and the intense love he had for his wife. I remember his animated exuberance on Friday afternoons as he announced his plans for the weekend to me, and everyone else in the pub. His eyes would light up at the thought of going to the cinema, seeing a play, even the mundane act of grocery shopping was a pleasure for him so long as she was there. On Monday (in fact every day) he would have a huge, goofy grin on his face, so enamoured with his other half and lost in the wonder of their weekend together. He pursued her, wore her down, married her, and loved her with every fibre of his being for the rest of her life. Theirs was a beautiful story but, as the heartbroken husband said in his eulogy, ‘all good love stories have unhappy endings.’
I felt for him as he wished her goodbye and I held back my own grief as he sobbed in my mother’s arms.
Regardless of all the wonderful memories you may have, there is still a deep and profound sadness when love dies. I know that feeling well and I just wanted to offer my condolences to an old acquaintance.