Awoke early, it hit me immediately. So I got up.
Started working my way through the things to do list. Made an appointment with the Registrar’s office for 3pm. Looked into funeral directors details and newspaper announcements. Took a break mid-morning to check Juliet’s letters i.e. which ones to be opened when. In fact, given that this blog has become far more personal than I’d ever intended, I’m going to list them here. They are colour-coded, in pink, blue, yellow, green and orange envelopes (she was a teacher, remember). If you happen to read this blog and subsequently speak to me, I don’t want to discuss this post. Remember that this is now mostly for my benefit, unloading of emotions.
Pink envelopes, “Open the day after my funeral” one each for for Simon, Lucy and Alice, Mum and Dad, Philip, Alex.
“Open when choosing / going to University 18+” one each for Lucy and Alice. Lucy can open hers whenever she’s ready.
“Simon. How to help Lucy with a problem. Open when needed” and the same relating to Alice.
“Lucy and Alice. Open when thinking of getting married or making a life long comitment” [J was not a grate spelur]
“Lucy. Open when pregnant or thinking about the possibility“. Ditto for Alice.
“Simon. How to have a better relationship with the girls. Open when you need some support after things have settled down a bit.”
“Simon. Open when you seriously are thinking about a new relationship“.
Pretty worrying this one.
“Simon. Open three months after I have gone.”
This one terrifies me. 7th November, I suppose.
“Simon. Happy Memories. Open when you are alone, anytime you like.”
Not ready yet.
“Simon, Lucy & Alice. Some Happy Memories. Open whenever you like.”
We did open this one, I tried to read it aloud and they were indeed very happy memories, but that set me off crying. The girls ran for tissues.
To KH for perhaps the last time. I’d arranged to collect the medical certificate of death there. I looked in at Juliet’s old room: it was now de-personalized, like a checked-out hotel room. The only things left were the lilies in their vase, so at least the room smelt wonderful, if a bit overpowering. I asked to stay in there while having a cup of tea and a wrap-up chat with Chrissie. She said what a joy Juliet was to nurse. Took the lilies home, and three huge green plastic sacks of clothes that we wheeled out in a wheelchair. Shook hands with Chrissie and she gave me a hug. Not often you combine the two. As I was leaving in the car I had a few words with Katie, one of the Macmillan nurses, which was good.
At home I had one of the Suffolk duck eggs for lunch. Mostly rich yolk. It was so delicious, I boiled up the other straightaway and had that too. Thanks Eva. 4 minutes was just right.
Spoke to Jeremy from Australia and I think managed to dissuade him from coming over for the funeral. Not often I get to lecture him about carbon footprints! Pointed out that he and his family had done so much for J over a great distance while she was ill.
My phone pinged regularly with new emails all day. Went to the Registrar’s office at Bodicote, where we used to live and next door to the primary school that the girls attended. Last time I was in a registrar’s office was registering Alice’s birth, sixteen years ago. Very straightfowards process, unemotional – not friendly, not hostile, just neutral. As it should be I suppose. I was somewhat “distrait” throughout.
(I learned that word in a Just William book when I was a kid. Look it up if necessary).
I did ask the registrar if she was obliged to use a fountain pen. Not only was the answer yes, but she showed me the special Registrar’s Ink she uses. It apparently contains carbon and although appears blue today, eventually fades to black.
On the way back I called in at Juliet’s last-but-one school in Banbury, to see if the murals she painted were still there.
Some builders were constructing a classroom extension and brusquely sent me on my way – shame, there was a huge hole there which I would normally have been very interested in (geology). Went round the other side of the school, and from a distance across the playing field I could indeed see at least one large mural on an external wall. This pleased me stupidly and greatly. I have J’s proper photos of her work, but the one here will suffice as proof.
Failed to find a dry cleaner’s where I could get my suit cleaned. The funeral director is visiting at 10am tomorrow – we’ll see how imminent or not the funeral might be.
A long-time friend phoned me in the evening. He had not yet opened my email, so didn’t know about yesterday’s news. His own experiences last year were even more tragic than our family’s. We compared notes. “Compared feelings” just isn’t something English blokes do. Perhaps we should.
We watched a couple of “Friends” DVDs – we’re only on Season 3 – J and I were enjoying introducing the girls to them. When we’d watched them the first time round, in the mid-90s, J had this mega-annoying habit of doing the five rapid claps in the opening titles sequence and I’d banned her from doing them. In recent months, watching with the girls, she’d started doing them again, and of course I really liked it. Now she’s gone , I’m doing them for her.