it’s rapidly approaching the time for an event that I am not looking forward to, the funeral of my nephew, for the obvious reasons. I know my sister has planned it well, it will not be a mournful occasion, there will be tears of that I’m sure but it will be more of a celebration of the young man‘s life and not a sad farewell. Having said that, the reason I am not looking forward to it, and forgive me for labouring what to some may be the obvious, but I am not looking forward to saying goodbye. I will never see that young man again, never share time with him, laugh with him or discuss topics of interest we both share. I am still struggling with the basic fact that he has been ripped from our lives by some callous act of chance, so saying goodbye is out of the question.
During the funeral service I will listen to comments, anecdotes and revelations about him from various friends and family members and it brings back memories of three funerals I attended in the last few years which brings me to the point of this post.
At each funeral I learned things about the departed that I never knew, in some cases things that I’d forgotten about and reminded about others that we all had laughed about at family gatherings. At my Brother in law’s funeral around two years ago I learned what others knew about the guy and it opened my eyes. They were talking about a wonderful person, full of humour, warmth and generosity. My opinion of Paul was coloured, I’m ashamed to say, by my first impression of him. The first time I ever met him was, and I remember it as if it was yesterday, a cliché I know but none the less true, the night Stef, my sister brought him home to meet him. This is not quite how it sounds because they had dated a few times and I remember my parents talking about it and Paul in general and that they knew very little about him other than what my sis had told them, which was not a lot. Well you can imagine that, that wasn’t going to go on for long. Previous dates had ended with them arriving home, Paul would say goodnight at our gate then disappear into the night and Stef would come in. The night in question we all waited for her return, it was a saturday night and my father kept going out to the gate to catch their arrival.When they got home Dad was waiting at the gate, Paul had no avenue of escape and when invited in he had to say yes.
In they came, Stef introduced him to Mum and myself, I was still at school and although my sis and I fought like most siblings, I looked up to her and when I saw Paul my first thought was “What the hell is she doing with him?” I expected her to come home with a hunk, tall, muscular with model good looks, in other words in my young mind someone worthy. Now Paul was the same as the rest of us who don’t quite fit my parameters for my sis’ ideal partner, in other words normal and quite frankly not up to her standard and therefore not good enough for my big sis. I’m ashamed to say that it coloured my perception of the guy and it changed our relationship. I never got to meet the real Paul, I only knew the Paul I met on that first day.
How many of us have done that I wonder?
I know I’m going to learn things about Matt, my nephew that I never knew, I’m going to see things that others saw and I hope I’ll be richer for the knowledge. It makes me want to immerse myself in the family I have left totally, to really get to know them and them me, to learn every facet of their lives so that when the time does come to say goodbye they, and I can say that ‘Yes’ I knew them.
In closing I urge everyone to cherish your friends, family and loved ones. Spend time with them, talk to them about your day, listen about theirs and above all never be afraid to tell them you love them. I know from experience that chance, fate or whatever you want to call it can take them from you at any moment so cherish what time you have left.
See you soon,