I am currently in my odd socks and trackies with a cup of hot tea steaming by one side of my computer and the work phone on the other.
At any time, right up until eight in the morning tomorrow, this little red device can ring indicating the end of another life.
I am on call, and this can mean late nights but I don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night, quickly brewing a coffee for the road and taking off into the darkness. If I am called upon by a grief stricken family, nothing else matters except the quickest route to their home or location. Tomorrow I am conducting a funeral in the city, and there is a fat chance I will need extra concealer and plenty of caffeine to get me through, but that’s okay.
Today, I buried an old man named Allen. It was pouring rain and the cemetery was a mud bath. Allen’s small family had flown from England to pay their respects. I’m sure they felt right at home! I stood by the casket, the Orders of Service in my hands, listening to the conversations between siblings. I learnt they had not seen each other in years, their words were short, empty and cold like strangers in line at a supermarket. But I could not help but notice the longing in their eyes for a hug. A touch. Each of them wanted to pull their brother or sister in and squeeze the guts out of them, but their adult ego taller than the six foot grave dug in the cemetery for their father, they stood awkwardly and discussed how warm the Australian Winter was even when it was raining.
During the Eulogy, the children shared stories of the snowy English nights when the children would fight over who would go and drop a coin into the gas/electricity metre to keep the heater going, or dob one another in to brave the sleet to grab some firewood from the woodshed. Allen was a gentle and kind man, who loved to cook and go to the theatre. Their eyes glazed over as they peered over at the shiny casket, trembling and sniffling. I wondered if these beautiful words had been spoken to Allen in recent times.
So many people wait until a loved one’s Eulogy to share their thoughts, their feelings and wishes…too many times at a funeral I hear: ‘If only I could have Dad here for one more day…’
Don’t wait until the funeral to show you care. Tell everybody you love right now that they are special to you. There is nothing wrong with expressing your love and admiration to another person. Just finished an argument with your spouse and fuming? Take a breath, pour some tea (or a whisky) then go and hug them.
My work phone is ringing which means somebody just took their last breath. Life is too short and your family and friends are far too important; don’t let them die not knowing how awesome they truly are and how much they are loved.