They came in rugby club colours. They came in fencing kit. They came in school colours. They came in anything but black. As the weather made up its mind about rain or shine, outside the chapel, nearly 100 people came to say goodbye to a friend who left too soon. A small hiccough when it turned out the crematorium had put bibles on all the seats. I ran inside to remove all of them before letting people in.
I was very happy that people were surprised by the awesomeness of JD’s coffin. I had moved heaven and earth to get that particular one. It was covered in a large image of a galaxy. In keeping with JD’s beliefs, I had also made sure the manufacturers of the coffin were as environmentally sound as they could be. In fact, they burn the wood off-cuts from making the coffins which generates enough energy to power the factory.
As they carried the coffin in to the chapel, JD’s fencing friends, who had come in full fencing whites, gave her a fencing salute. Kirsty MacColl sang “Thank you for the days”. I cried.On the top of the coffin was a short poem:
There were tributes from Uni friends, from school friends, from my sister and from JD’s mother. Along the back wall of the room stood a large semi-circle of blue and gold hoops from all the rugby girls. It looked beautiful. My sister spoke on my behalf. Looking back, I wish I had spoken myself. But I would not have known what to say, other than how much I loved her. How much I still love her. How much I will miss her guidance, her input in my decisions, her love, her smile, her kindness. How much I will be lost without her. How much I want to make her proud of me. How much I wished it was me with the tumour.
The service was too short. I wanted to spend more time with JD. I wanted it not to be happening. I wanted everyone to go away and leave me with her for a few more hours. I wanted to throw myself onto the coffin and tell her one more time how much I love her. I wanted to ask her if she could see how much her friends and family love her. I wanted this not to be real.
Instead, we went to the rugby club where JD and I spent happy years making friends. I had created a slide show with pictures of JD which was shown on the projector. I loved seeing everyone look at the pictures, pointing, laughing, remembering.
I ran around like a headless chicken, making sure I got to say hello to everyone. People had come from so far away and I wanted everyone to know how much I appreciated their efforts to say goodbye to JD. All the while, I was wondering when I would start the proper crying I was expecting.
Instead, I cried only very little. Surprisingly little. I have not cried much at all yet. Maybe because, unbeknownst to myself, I had already been saying goodbye for weeks before she died. Maybe, I keep telling myself, maybe it will come later. But how much later? Surely it does not mean I did not love her as much as I thought I did? Surely not. So why am I not crying more? I am alone. I was told by many people this would be the hardest day. But it is no harder, no more boring, no more lonely than the days that have gone before. Maybe it is still not feeling real. maybe it is because JD was already out of the house for a while before she died so it is not that much different. Maybe it is because I have not had real companionship with JD for the last 2 months of her life, so the difference is not that big? Is the amount of crying related to how much you love and miss someone?