Life has certainly dealt our family some blows recently.
And, to be perfectly honest, I’m weary.
Really, utterly, overwhelmingly, horribly, unquestionably, physically and emotionally jaded.
I don’t relish in feeling the way I do, but there’s little I can do about it right now.
I’m very conscious that I’m experiencing the grieving process and I need to allow myself that time – however long it takes.
I’m just thankful that my sister and I can talk things through together and that I have Hannah to keep me occupied, because without her, life just wouldn’t be worth living.
Likewise, I’m incredibly grateful to the people who’ve reached out to me over this difficult time and offered their support (I know I haven’t taken you up on those offers, but I AM thankful, nonetheless – and I love you VERY much).
It’s times like these where we learn who genuinely cares!
For those of you who haven’t come across my blog before, hello! I think it’s best to advise that this post may not be the best place to start as you’re about to read a post which isn’t funny or entertaining or informative in any way whatsoever.
It’s my mum’s eulogy.
For many reasons, I struggled to write it. But I’m incredibly glad I did and I think it’s a fitting tribute to her life and deserves to be shared on my blog.
I also made the heart wreath as a tribute from Hannah, just as I did for my stepfather’s funeral only a few weeks ago. I’m not a florist, nor have I had any training in floristry, but I think I did a pretty good job.
So, here it is…..I’ve no doubt whatsoever that mum would have been incredibly proud of it…
It was only just over 15 weeks ago that many of us present here today joined together to bid farewell to the body of our beloved Harry, my mums husband.
And here we are again.
All far too soon.
For those of you who weren’t present on that day, I wrote something just for Harry which Father David kindly read out for me and today is no different.
I’ve written something for my mum, because this is the last thing I’ll probably ever be able to do for her.
However, as time is extremely limited, my few words could never do justice to her life, her achievements and all that she was to her family and the people that loved her.
On the 3rd of April 2015, my mum lost the love of her life and we knew that the huge void left in her heart could never be filled by anyone or anything.
Mum’s heart, so inextricably linked with her Husband’s, didn’t feel whole anymore.
And once she could no longer hear Harry’s voice tell her he loved her each and every day, or feel his presence, or see him sat in his favourite chair, she couldn’t go on.
Not in this world anyway.
So, on the 27th of July 2015, 13 weeks and 3 days after Harry died, she let go, and went to join him.
And, whilst that’s painfully hard to bear right now, I know that’s exactly where she belonged and where she wanted to be.
But whilst our hearts are burdened at the loss of two loved ones in such a short space of time, I believe that mum and Harry are now reunited – their hearts entwined again and now for eternity.
I believe that they’re happy and free of pain and hopefully keeping watch over us.
Whilst typically used at a wedding ceremony, Corinthians 13 pretty much sums up everything about Mum and Harrys relationship.
It says that love is patient: love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way: it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Mum and Harry shared a love that couldn’t be bought or manufactured. It was the type of love that most people can only ever dream of.
Theirs was truly unconditional.
And we are eternally grateful for the love and care that Harry showed to our mum.
Mum told me a year ago that she wouldn’t live to reach her 80th birthday and she was true to her word.
The day of her 80th birthday, in only a few days’ time from now, will undoubtedly be a melancholy one. If I could turn the clock back and erase the traumatic events of the last few months, that day would be very different. It would have been a day of celebration and happiness and family.
But I can’t.
And nothing will ever be the same again.
I think it was Shakespeare who first coined the expression “the eyes are the window to your soul” and mum has a virtuous soul. Behind her brown eyes and within that heart was a lifetime of memories and life experiences that anyone not already part of her life wouldn’t have been able to see, no matter how deeply they looked.
They wouldn’t have seen the little girl who, despite living throughout the Second World War where Mickey Mouse gas masks and air raid shelters and rations were the norm, enjoyed a relatively carefree, happy childhood.
They wouldn’t see the child who was loved and cherished by her family and the girl who cared deeply for her young brother.
Or the teenager who enjoyed going to tennis club or youth club or walks after mass – Her life filled with friends, some of whom would stay faithful to her for a lifetime.
They wouldn’t have known the graceful young woman, dressed in copies of couture gowns made lovingly by her mother. With her porcelain skin and sumptuous red hair – The young woman who turned heads wherever she went. The young woman once known as “The umbrella girl” for her style and elegance.
They wouldn’t see a woman, so exceptionally strong, who endured far too much pain and suffering and loss through her life, but still managed to smile through it all.
The woman who nursed both her brother and mother until their untimely deaths, whilst holding a family together and juggling a career.
They wouldn’t see the intelligent woman who worked diligently and with utmost humility to ensure her patients were provided with the best possible care.
The nurse and ward sister, respected throughout the medical profession.
The woman who, despite longing to be a surgeon within a patriarchal society, climbed the ladder in her career and made a profound difference to hundreds of people’s lives.
They couldn’t have seen the mother of two daughters, trying her best.
They couldn’t have witnessed the single mother with a small child who, powerless to stop her life being ripped apart around her, tried hard to hide from her daughter the immeasurable pain of deceit and betrayal and who endeavoured to muster some semblance of the happy life they once had.
They wouldn’t see the ex-wife remaining close friends with her former husband or witness her, ten years later, offering love, comfort and shelter to her first husbands widow, when, in reality, she owed the other woman nothing.
Her forgiveness and charity was a true reflection of her Christian beliefs and provides an indication of the remarkable woman that she was.
They wouldn’t have seen the love of my mum’s life, the knight in shining armour, already a faithful friend, gently sweeping her off her feet or the couple who lived happily ever after.
Mum and Harry were so intensely in love with each other that their love could have been the stuff of fairy-tales.
They wouldn’t be able to see the creative, open-minded, funny mother, who acted as a confidant; who offered a shoulder to cry on for both her adult daughters throughout those immensely dark and painful days.
The woman who taught her daughters that no-one, despite their profession or their social standing was any better than them. That we should accept and embrace who we are and who others are despite our differences. To be proud of ourselves as long as we tried our best. That even in those dark, painful times, someone, somewhere was experiencing something far worse than we were.
They couldn’t see the Grandmother who was proud of all three of her grandchildren and their achievements.
They wouldn’t have witnessed the devout Christian whose faith remained with her unwavering throughout her life.
They wouldn’t see the immense love and pride she held for her family or the faithful, compassionate friend.
But mum was all of that and much, much more.
Her eyes and her heart held such a plethora of memories, experiences and love.
And now, thanks to her tissue donation, mum will hopefully give the gift of sight to someone else.
Mum gave so much to so many people throughout her life and that generosity and her legacy will now live on through someone else.
In my tribute to Harry, I said that I believed he was everywhere, and for mum I feel no different:
She’s in the fragrant freesia in a crystal vase. She’s in a singer sewing machine, or the sparkle in a diamond. She’s in a hymn or a song. In the scent of a favourite perfume, in the swish of an elegant skirt or in the bark of an oak tree.
Mum, like Harry, is everywhere.
If only we take the time to look and reflect.
This post is dedicated to love. If you ever have it, hang on to it and treat it with the respect and care that it deserves. Alongside your health, it’s the most precious thing you’ll ever have.