Four Weddings and A Funeral

Okay, just the one wedding then. Outside of work, life was obviously happening and it was moving on for my cousin Sarah and her other half Stephen. She had previously asked me to be one of her bride’s maids and I know it’s a bride’s job to be nervous on the big day but I was too. The simple fact of the matter is, I don’t do dresses, but having worn denim at my Uncle’s reception seven years earlier, I thought it was only fair to make an effort as she had asked me to play this role. The dress was red and the worst part of it is I helped her pick them. But then it was either that or green, but to be fair, they did look alright with the sashes so I did make an okay choice in the end. It was a lovely day from what I remember of it as I did put away an obscene amount of alcohol that night. We all posed for pictures on the rec outside her Mum’s house before hand, and then travelled by limo to the service. I remember being handed a glass of champagne, but I didn’t drink it as I don’t like wine or anything like that so gave mine to Sarah when she finished hers. It was a very nice way to travel and something I could have gotten used to. The shoes I wore were killing my feet, even with wearing those gel insole party feet things, they don’t work at all. I remember Sarah walked down the aisle to the Imperial March from Star Wars, different but unique, just like my cousin. That even was the reception and I spent well over £100 on alcohol; Vodka and Red Bull is expensive, especially when you throw in flaming Sambuca’s, location and event. The following day I was a little bleary eyed and went to Croydon with my Mum and watched a movie at the cinema.

A few weeks later came probably the worst day of my life. It was something I think everyone else was expecting but I didn’t know about as I hadn’t been to the hospital and seen how bad she was towards the end of her life. I don’t even know what she died of in the end. I never asked. It was a few days before Sarah’s birthday and we had been discussing what we should do to celebrate it that year. The day was 25th July 2005; I was walking to work down the long Godstone Road from Stafford Road in Caterham, to the borderline of Kenley. It was a 45 minute walk or so usually. It was just an average day weather wise. Mum was already at the hospital. Her, Auntie Franky and Auntie Wendy had been spending a lot of time over there recently. It was 8:10am and I’d just stepped through the door of the building when my phone rang. It was my cousin Scott. He told me to wait there as Sarah was coming to get me and we were going over the hospital. He wouldn’t even tell me why or what had happened. I hung up the phone and swallowed hard. I knew. I went and saw Val and Ingrid to explain I had to go then waited for Sarah in the car park. She arrived, I asked how she was and she said as well as can be. We went to pick up Scott from Redhill train station. On the way to the hospital the car was silent. We arrived at the hospital, Sarah and I waited while Scott went to the toilets. When he came out, I knew he had been crying. We went to the ward where she was and everyone else were crowding round her bed, sobbing. Franky buried her head in Sarah and Scott’s shoulders. I looked at my mum who was sitting at the top of the bed, holding her hand. She looked up at me and called me over. I walked over, slowly, head lowered. I couldn’t look at her. I was in disbelief. I put my arms around my Mum as she cried on my shoulder. I didn’t cry I couldn’t find any tears. I felt numb and in shock. My beloved Gran had gone. I finally built up the courage to look at her. She was a pale yellow colour, very withdrawn, nothing of her. She had lost so much weight and was a shadow of her former self. The clothes she wore could fit two of her inside. Her hair looked matted and frayed. This wasn’t my Gran, it couldn’t have been. I was in complete denial. I suddenly started thinking about my childhood memories with her. Things like watching Tintin, Land Of The Giants and The Littlest Hobo on a Sunday morning, eating baked beans and spaghetti on toast for lunch while listening to Michael Crawford or Roy Orbison on the cassette player. She looked after me more than my Mum ever did and now she was gone. It started to sink in but I still couldn’t cry. I looked around at everyone else who was in floods of tears, but I couldn’t be one of them. Someone had to be the strong one, even though inside I wanted to break down and scream. A week later we had her Funeral at Croydon Crematorium. I was going to sit with Franky, Sarah and Scott but my Mum wanted to sit on the front row. I really didn’t want to do that but knew I had to for her. I held her hand through the whole thing as they played music, read poems and verses before sending my Gran to the point of no return. That was it. But I still couldn’t find my tears. We all went back to Auntie Wendy’s house afterwards before I went over the pub with my Auntie Jennifer, Uncle Ricky, Uncle Colin and Uncle Pete. We drank to Gran’s memory, and my God did we drink. We had some good times together and we remembered them well. It was later that night when I got home and crawled into bed that I finally found my tears. I cried myself to sleep. My Mum must have heard me in the night as the following morning I woke up to find my head on her lap.

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