A touchy subject bereavement... for obvious reasons. At 36 I feel I have had my fair share of knowledge of this subject. Starting at 21 with the death of my uncle.. I never saw him often as he was in the merchant navy..when I did see him it was magical, the elusive uncle back from some glamorous trip and we would look at maps of the world together (no t'internet then ..) I still now find it hard to believe that I will never see him again.
I was bereavement-free for a couple of years, and then my husband's friend passed away, the victim of a cruel brain tumour, we went to his wedding, and a few short months later, his funeral. They say that each funeral brings back a little from each previous one you have been to. How true this is, the minute I saw the hearse, I was 21 again, outside my mother's house.. I cried like a baby for a man I barely knew and again for the uncle I had lost...
More recently my father-in-law has passed away, followed a few days later by my grandfather, so cupcake and I both lost our grandfathers in the same week - albeit that I was thirty-five when I lost mine, and she just six. Which brings me onto children coping with death. Cupcake has not coped well with her grandfather's passing and I don't really know how to deal with it, other than to give her lots of love and say 'Grandad wouldn't want to see you so sad...' which consoles her a little.
These days more friends and friends of friends are passing on.. cupcake had tea tonight with her pal whose Daddy died last year of skin cancer, both daughter and wife are coping with his loss, but I sense only just..
When I turned 30, I really didn't want to be 30, I don't know why, it was basically a mid-life crisis come early. I chopped my hair, I resurrected piercings I no longer wore.. and for every subsequent year after that I used my '29' candles on every cake that I blew the candles out on. Hard to believe that for six years I blew those '2' and '9' candles out absolutely refusing to accept my thirties. For some reason last year I chose not to, I finally threw those candles away... I don't know why, I think I just turned 36 and thought to myself' 'That's it you've got to face up to this thirties thing and now's the time..'
Which brings me nicely on to my final bereavement...Shortly after my birthday last year, I hooked up with an old school friend, it was SO great to see her, we practically went through the whole school year figuring out who was doing what now and how many children they had, all the little details, you know how it is... There was one particular friend I had been trying to trace on Facebook, Friends Reunited etc. I once contacted someone who I thought was her, but had simply gained the same Last name through marriage. It wasn't her and I never did trace her.. so this was an ideal opportunity.. 'What on earth happened to Rachael ?' I asked..'Does anyone know what she is up to ?' 'Oh ... ', replied my friend hesitantly, face changing. I knew before she even said the words. '.....Didn't you know... she died' ....
Well, what can I say ? Her words echoed through my head, I got a lump in my throat, the friend didn't know what had happened, just...a mish-mash of hearsay that sounded odd to me.. I went home and cried to my husband and cried myself to sleep for the beautiful friend I would never get to see, never get to share adult things with or laugh about our schooldays with again. Like, for example, the time we ran off together in the middle of Germany in our matching jumpers in search of chocolate at the age of 14 ! Or the evenings we spent getting ready for the local disco at her house, or the table/desk football we used to play actually during our lessons, behind our pencil cases. She would laugh at all of that. She was beautiful, funny and clever, one of a kind.
In the days that followed, I absolutely racked my brain for her parent's phone number, bearing in mind it had been 17 years since I had called it. I can't believe I remembered it.. I spoke to her mom, who lovingly gave me all the details and heard me gasp as she told me how she had lost her husband and then 4months later her daughter. My friend died in her sleep, a form of adult cot death I suppose. She was 29.