Last week I went to the funeral of a friend. The service was where I grew up as a teenager. I had to catch a bus across town, arriving at this place so familiar yet strangely new. Like parallel worlds overlapping, the edges of dreams like a flicker book. I could remember individual trees, footpaths, sign posts. Each step another memory, another recognition of something gone but still felt.
I walked past the rows of headstones, passed slow moving cars, people in summer clothes tending flowers. I could just hear the birdsong above the roar of the roads that corner this spot and above the groundsman carefully driving around the plots on his motorised mower. Then I rounded the corner of the crematorium to shuffle amongst the small group of friends.
A hushed politeness and smiles, of dressing up, of looking around for the people we might recognise and the family we don’t. Do you remember me? We’re here to remember him.
Slowly the car arrives and we all take our places.
There’s that Robert Frost poem, a lovely Elizabeth Frye poem. Some songs. Words to make us remember. My mind contiually wanders then comes back to the point each time thinkng of the sorrow of loss and the poor children left behind.
We quietly, politely, slowly, gently file outside. I hug an old school friend, we share our stories. Then we ponder what to do next.
What we do next is sit in an old pub in town and share stories, remembering friends with friends. Then go off our separate ways. Me to pick up my children, others to remember the days spent with one another, being young, revisiting old haunts.
And each step another memory.