August 18th

Yesterday was my birthday. Birthdays don’t have quite the same shine anymore, but that’s probably normal, when you’re in your late 30’s…..

More significantly than my birthday, it was the funeral of the cyclist that I wrote about a bit ago. As I’d said, I didn’t know him well, but the similarities between his fate and mine have made me think about him a lot. I caught 2 buses and headed to Putney, with Stella’s help. After half an hour, I realised I’d missed my stop, and was miles from where I intended to be, and already late. Another bus, and a trike along some very busy roads got me there eventually, although 15 minutes after the service had started.  The church had a step but the gentlemen waiting in the hurse got me up it, and in.
Theo had left London with 4 friends for a cycle trip in France for a long weekend, and didn’t live to see his wife and children again. Whilst pulling out on his bike to overtake his mates, he was hit by an oncoming motorcycle, and died instantly, along with the motorbiker.
His 18 year old son spoke first, his voice trembling and faltering. He made quite a few humorous comments about his Dad, though they were so laced with sadness that I couldn’t laugh at them.
Next his 16 year old daughter spoke. She is called Ellie. She spoke so maturely, with eloquence so beyond her 16 years, and conveyed regret that her GCSE’s had meant her seeing less of her Dad in the time before his death. She broke down a few times, but held it together for the hundreds assembled.
Then Ali, his widow, spoke – so lovingly and admiringly of her late husband, again laced with humour,bravely attempted through  her tears.

Situated at the back, I will never forget the sobbing figure of his 16 year old daughter, as she passed me, in the wake of his pall bearers, so obvious her abject distress at the loss of her Dad.

That 2 hours was the  most heartbreaking 2 hours of my life  I felt so profoundly affected by what I’d witnessed – such an outpouring of love for a man. You don’t get to witness your own funeral, but you do hope  that those there might have something good to say about you, I think.

I met Stella afterwards, and sheltered from the rain before going back to Chiswick.
We’d asked a group of lovely people to come to mine for a birthday celebration, though for quite a long time I couldn’t think of much other than the funeral I’d been to.
Thanks so much to those that came, for the gifts, for the goodwill and the love, and to Stella, Tamara, Cherie and Pia for all their prompts and help to get it to happen at all. It was a success.

3 thoughts on “August 18th

  1. Belated Happy birthday Russ . Glad you to celebrate it with some love special people .. sorry that the funeral you attended was on your mind .. xx

  2. The most recent heartbreaking hours of my life were 3 weeks ago, knowing insticivly that your no reply meant you either had or were dying at that very moment. And feeling your frustration, pain, regrets & anger- was nothing compared to the pain of all those closest to you that love you… still… Theo’s family & friends, will be forever bereft. Three weeks ago, those you love most were about to feel as if they too, had fallen into the void.

    Both of you had terrible tragic bike accidents, Theos hopefully had a quick departure, That you have been revived several times, has been your prolonged, and sometimes constant angish & deep despair. Is also tragic,
    Chance & choice. You get one more Chance to choose to live a life that I pray you won’t waste it. PS your party was a good start.

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