emmelinemay: (eye)
[personal profile] emmelinemay
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Canon Henry Scott-Holland

On Tuesday 18th of January the beautiful Kathleen Bathurst, known to her 7 grandchildren as "Gangan" passed away peacefully in her sleep. We didn't know she was unwell - or we knew she wasn't in the best of health, of course, she was 80, but we had no idea she was sick enough to leave us so suddenly or unexpectedly. The post-mortem, for there had to be one, in such circumstances, revealed her to be suffering from ischemic heart disease, which is apparently one of the most common causes of death in western countries. None of us knew.

She was an amazing person - so full of love and warmth. She had a gift of love; making all that visited feel part of the family, feel welcomed and cared for. She loved sunflowers and daises and lavender. She loved anything leopard print. She was an artist - she could draw, paint, sew, bake. Her creations are all over the house. She had style, she always looked amazing. She loved shopping, and owned more gloves, scarves and bags than everyone I've ever known all put together. She was intuitive and offhandedly spiritual, often claiming to be a "witch", with a half smile, a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye. "I knew you were coming" she'd say, upon your 'surprise" arrival. "I knew you were coming. I'm a witch!"

She had terrible road rage, and used to swear dreadfully when at the wheel of her little car. She hated people driving wearing hats. "LOOK AT HIM" she'd fume. "He's wearing a HAT! A HAT! Fucking idiot!" She hated Graham Norton and people who rang up during David Attenborough programmes. Her hates and loves were often as unpredictable as her road rage was surprising to people that knew her. She had a lovely warm gentle laugh, which I can still recall and keep trying to hear it in my mind, lest one day I can't hear it any more.

The home was hers, the garden her husband's (Tigs to the 7 grandchildren) and every corner, crevice and surface of the house has an object that is inextricably her. You can't walk around the house without her personality in everything you see.

Testament to how loved she was by so many - within only 3 days we had received 72 cards of condolence; all say the same words."Beautiful" they say. "Warm". "Loving". "Kind". The cards acknowledge what a huge loss she is to our lives; to the family and close friends and indeed to all who met her, because to know her was to love her.

I can't see a sunflower without thinking of her. Sunflowers turn their faces to the sun and reflect back the warmth and the beauty they receive; and that was one of Gangy's gifts. She gave out such warmth and goodness that you couldn't help but turn to her, and feel like a better person. She loved her family fiercely and unreservedly, and we loved her back with all our hearts.

To say we are devastated to lose her is an understatement. To me, she was perfect. And I will miss her. So very, very much. My heart aches for her, and for my grandfather, husband of nearly 60 years. I long to hold her one more time and hear her laugh. But I have so many precious memories and feel so blessed to have had her in my life, and so proud to belong to her, my grandmother, my beloved Gangan.

Grief is a strange thing. One minute you are hit with a wave of total desolation, heartbreak, hopeless sadness, and you sob, you cry. Then the tears recede, you feel sad, you find something else to do, you forget for a little while. Then it all comes back, and you feel guilty that you had forgotten for a while, and the grief hits you again. The mornings are the worst right now; the moment when you wake up and reality is not set; then it all hits you like a sudden cold storm. then it's gone again, and you find yourself getting on with life again; knowing that things will keep happening in the same way as they ever did, only somehow some things will never be the same again. I guess this is the nature of grief, and I have to learn to allow myself to grieve, and to allow others to grieve, and allow myself to take comfort from the happy memories and let them make me smile even as they make sad.

I don't know if I believe in an afterlife. I don't know if I believe in ghosts or spirits.I certainly believe people live on in memories and in our actions, they live on in us, the family, the friends, people they have touched and inspired. We take them forward in our own lives with us, and in us they live on.

I am not sure what to make of the lights in Tigs' house having started to occasionally turn on and off for no apparent reason, or the sprig of dried lavender that appeared on his bed, or the electric shocks we all started getting in the house which hadn't happened before. My aunt feels that it is her, still with us, saying she loves us and is thinking of us. I am not so sure what to make of it. Or what to make of the card I found on my bed a few days ago that she'd sent me after her surprise 80th birthday party last year. I don't know how it came to be on my bed, but it was. It was upside down, with the back up, and the picture - this one here - face down. On the back of the card was her handwriting. I'd not noticed that anything was written on the back until that moment. On the back of the card she'd written "I can imagine flying thro' the night sky with this fairy". I don't know if I want to entertain the idea that some spirit of her remains and contrived to place this card on my bed so I would be comforted; the rational side of my brain suspects that the card was caught up in between other papers that I "file" in my characteristically haphazard manner all around my room and it slipped out and fell onto my bed as I was "tidying" (or as my Mum calls it, "moving the mess from one part of the room to another"). But really, it doesn't matter how it came to be there. It was there, and Gangy told me that she could see her self flying through that night sky with the "spirit of the night", for that is the name of the painting, and she was a "witch", as we all know. And if she could see that, so can I, and it is oddly comforting.

The funeral is in two weeks' time. There will be family flowers only, but should you wish to do so you can make donations to the British Heart Foundation directly or via the funeral directors.
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February 2015


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