A weird day. My dad died 3 years ago this week. This pic is of his 80th birthday, 4 months before he died, and a month after my mum died. In the photo, tying his balloon onto his chair, is my mum's younger sister, my aunty Jan. She had been ill for some time, and today I made another trip to Bristol for her funeral.
The sun shone, like it did three years ago, and I arrived early enough to visit my mum and dad and out some flowers in the holder above their plaque. Clive, James and Laura were with me, bless them, I love my children for wanting to be there and the tears they shed with me.
I hugged my uncle, and my cousins, and we held on tight, feeling that bond of knowing people we lvoed were gone for ever. Hopefully they are together.
Jan was so different from my mother: my poor mum who was anxious, depressed, miserable, resentful, self obsessed, even when her problems were relatively minor to Jan's, whose illness has been life threatening for some years. Jan, on the other hand, who was seriously ill, was cheerful, outgoing, funny, outrageous and was always laughing. She missed my mum so much, and she could make her laugh and cheer her up like no-one else. I have spoken to her often since mum died, and she has been a tower of strength and an example to me.
I visited her in hospital in March, on the same ward my mum had been on...and we laughed. She was so pleased to see me. I spoke to her on the phone about three weeks ago, she was back at home but waiting to go in for the operation from which she may not recover (she didn't) and..yes... we laughed, and talked, and shared...she was remarkable.
Funerals are weird things. One minute crying, the next minute talking to family you know well, being pleased to see them, sharing memories, eating, drinking, laughing, meeting relatives you didn't know you had, 'Oh, are you Betty's daughter? Lovely to meet you, I knew your mum years ago, she was lovely.' My cousin Mike, hugging me hard saying he knew he would cry when he saw me, (thanks Mike) saying I haven't changed in 40 years, the same old Sal and still lvoely (thanks Mike!) now his mum was gone he knew how I felt.
It's a party, a celebration, old photographs to look at, a time of intimacy and laughter..yet the person it's all for, the guest of honour is not there.
And you reflect on all the losses, all the sadness in your life, you take stock and look round, and think, Fuck me, I'm the older generation now, not the children any more, but the parents, my cousins grey and going bald..Fuck it's not long since we were children. And there are my two, looking gorgeous, 31 and 28..can it be???
I have just finished a book, last night, and the author was talking about mindfulness. Living truly in the present, inside your self, in the moment, fully aware of yourself and what you are doing. Then an e-mail came in from a guy I heard speak once, an inspirational guy, I signed up to his monthly bulletins. This morning the e-mail was on..mindfulness.. The importance of living in the present, not the past, full of regrets at what has not been, or in the future, living for what might be, but in the here and now. Then I looked at the rollecoaster blog, which I haven't for a few weeks..and guess what? She talked about mindfulness.
Mindfulness. Three times in less than 14 hours. I have reflected on that today, I was meant to read the words, hear the message. I am stuck in a world of looking at the past, worrying about the future, wanting what I cannot have, wanting more, missing today and the here and now of life because in my head I am always somewhere else.
I am going to think more about being mindful.. About my Aunty Jan who was her children's best friend, who cheered everyone up by her positive outlook and wonderful sense of humour.
I will miss her.