Stop all the clocks…

When I was seven years old, my best friend was a little girl called Jodie. She was more adventurous, outspoken and courageous than me, and I loved her for it. We rode our bikes together across the Lincolnshire countryside – so far from home that later, when we both had children of our own, we were appalled – had sleepovers in the garden, and wrote our names and the date on the wall of a cottage in her dad’s timber yard.*

In 2002, Jodie was diagnosed with breast cancer, but treatment put her into remission, so she and her husband Jim and their two small boys forged forwards in life, embarking on the renovation of a beautiful but virtually uninhabitable Grade II listed property. The return of her cancer and a terminal diagnosis was a devastating blow to everyone who loved her but especially to her young family. Jodie had always been stubborn and tenacious, and she used the same bloody minded approach that had ensured her business success to confront her illness. We used to joke that she was too stubborn to die, but really she was just determined to see both her children start school.

Jodie died in 2005 when her boys were 5 and 6 years old. She had fought a brave, hard fight but in the end the big C got the better of her.

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So it was with devastating and heartbreaking irony that today we laid her eldest child to rest, having taken his own life. A beautiful, intelligent boy of just 16 years, much loved, with so much to offer the world.

There are some things for which nothing can be said. There are no words of comfort available, nothing which will make it better, nothing which will make it go away. There are some things which can only be borne, not gotten over.

At Jodie’s funeral we had known what was coming. Jodie had asked me to deliver the eulogy, and my writings had been vetted in advance. She had organized the ceremony with Jim. But it was still hard. It was still heartbreaking. In the church today there was little that I recognized, and I can only think that I got through that day in a blur.

But there is no possible preparation for what we had to do today.

His dad said that George had not been able to see the point of life. But if he had asked me I would have told him that the point was in the hundreds of people in the church today, at his grave, and at his wake. It was in the gatherings of the last two weeks, as his family supported one another to get through all the arrangements necessary after the (always untimely) death of a child. It was in his close group of school friends, as they let off balloons in his memory and put together slideshows of photographs of his life. It was in the eulogies bravely delivered by his devoted father and by his best friend.

Because the point of this life is quite simply love.

Hold your children close tonight – and every night.

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*it’s still there

2 thoughts on “Stop all the clocks…

  1. Such lovely and true words. I can’t imagine having to lose a spouse, but then to lose a child too. Heartbreaking! Nothing is a healer….but love is powerful…it can make us cry, smile, ache, angry and offer fond comfort! When somebody takes their own life….there are so many questions that are just unanswerable….time certainly isn’t a healer….we just get used to live with it…..somedays we do, somedays we don’t. Memories are precious…..treasure them! Thoughts are with Jim and Henry and the rest of their family! …..and also for Jodie on this forthcoming birthday. X

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