I was supposed to travel to France today. But at exactly the time that the plane I was meant to be on touched down in Paris, I left home for the drive up north. There were dozens of traffic jams, but we made it in time, even managing to pick up Chris on the way.
It was good to see my family again, but I wish these gatherings would be under different circumstances: The last three family meetings were all down to funerals, and the sight of ashen-faced relatives is becoming all too familiar. At least we were dressed in colourful clothes; he had explicitly stated that there should not be any black on display – instead, he wanted us to wear something green, his favourite colour.
When entering the chapel, I tried to avoid looking at the coffin as long as possible; when I finally did, it looked too small for him, too short for his 6’1. I sat between my youngest cousins, holding Louise’s hand with my right and petting Justin’s knee with my left; both were weeping for most of the ceremony. I just sat there, silently, the tears streaming down my face; Jen offered me a tissue, but I did not bother to take it. I did not want to let go of Lou and J.
8 years, three months and 5 days ago, we were sitting in another chapel, saying goodbye to his elder brother. I can still vividly remember Jen calling me on that Sunday afternoon in February, telling me that G had taken his life; I fell from the sofa to my knees, feeling like I had been kicked right in the heart. The physical pain was so intense that I couldn’t breathe properly. Just thinking about it hurts again.
G’s death was sudden and inexplicable; it still is. His parents were forced to plan the memorial ceremony themselves, guessing what he would have wanted. This time, it was different: H had left not only clear instructions as to what to wear, but also chosen the music for the event. The rock song when we entered the chapel was typically him, but it was the song played after the eulogy that almost broke me.
When the music stopped and the people in the chapel sat in silence, I realised that there were birds singing outside, tweeting their hearts out, celebrating a sunny spring day. You would have liked that.
I miss your blunt assessments of people and your ability to cut to the chase; you did not like pretenders or false sentimentality, but you were deeply caring when people needed you. You told me off when I said something you considered obvious (“Are you fucking kidding me?!”), and yet you always listened carefully; nothing escaped your attention. You were cautious with your affections and did not easily share your inner world, but this was just a mean to protect your sensitive core. I miss your mischievous smile, the one that always made you look like a young boy again; a boy who did not have a care in the world.
I miss you. I miss the two of you so much.