Funeral (4)

We were late. I’m never late. At least, I do all I can to not be. I wept at the thought of missing it, of not being there. And yet he’s gone. He went a long time ago. Weeks ago. His body kept in cold storage for almost three weeks. And yet I needed to be there. To stand next to her, to hold her and be held in return. Loss brings back other such losses. All those connections. We wouldn’t have known him if not for her. Twenty years they were together, more. Not happy, either of them but there were the honeymoon years before the reality of each other set in.

We got there in the end, walking in halfway through the eulogy. Are you the woman who was lost? A uniformed lady at the Crematorium asked, before hurrying me in. We got there. I was there. The eulogy was pragmatic, honest as it could be. The pictures of him were unfamiliar. They played Mull of Kintyre at the end. A tenuous choice. I don’t think I ever heard him putting on music, the radio even. A big man, a vital man. Gone. So much space. The space in between. Breathe into the space. An awkward huddle outside. Sibling not talking to sibling. Fighting over money. I met his wife, the one he left for her. I liked her. A twinkle, a spark. I liked her. Paying my respects to the daughter. A cold fish. Poor love. So tight, so stiff. We’re the same age. No connection. She is closed-off, protected. So be it. For her it is clearly necessary. We just need to survive, any which way. He was a good age, she said. The burden gone. Released.

A memory of Aberdovey. The jigsaw in the adult’s lounge, almost finished. A woman doing a bit before she joins her husband on the terrace. A group effort. A shared satisfaction. Do you finish your crosswords? the husband asks him. Yes, he says. We don’t, not always.

Morning comes now. The cloud breaks up. Blue coming through.

Walking back from the Prom and a woman calling out to me. I’d passed her earlier. Where you walking to? she shouted. Home, I replied. Home.