Friday, 2 April 2010

Forever Young

We have all been emotionally exhausted this week but we still managed to have a lovely relaxing day celebrating my dear Mums birthday, who in spite of all the worry I have caused her, looks half her tender years of age.

We went to my cousins son "R" funeral on Monday. The rains poured down, so did the tears but so did the love.

This was to be a very special occasion for our small family and a legion of friends, to celebrate the life of a wonderful inspiring brave young man. All of the familiar religious aspects of the service were kept to a minimum. My memories of his life, his great courage and this day have renewed my outlook on life.

As the congregation solemnly walked into the church "R" favourite music played, Kanye West Family Business

There were so many of my cousins son, young friends there, the crematorium was packed. Music was his love, his passion and through this his talents shone. He never moaned always tried to smile, always had a word to say to everyone he meet, without prejudice, with a warm heart.

We watched him grow from a baby to a man. His Mum doted on him. His Dad loved his son so much, they were so close. During his teenage years when he was not in hospital he would often be in his bedroom mixing his music, headphones on, feeling every rhythm, in his own world. He was born to be a DJ. He was a natural. We never got to see him perform but clearly many did. The congregation was full with the beautiful radiant young friends he had made from the night club world he loved so much.

I have never seen so many people, so many young people at a funeral. The readings by his girlfriends and his best mate were both humbling and heartbreaking. He was from a different generation to me, a face book generation. He lived for each day and his incredible spirit proved an inspiration to so many as he continually overcame so many life threatening challenges, with a cheeky quip and a smile.

His grieving brother asked they play the song Forever Young by Jay-Z This songs words are so poignant and left me in floods tears both at the time and when I played them several days later. The music was new to me, from a different generation but it spoke volumes and felt so powerful.

You should never judge people by appearances. In the words of his Mum "to see him some days with his raggedy jeans hanging all over the place you would never believe the kind of person he was". He refused to compromise his life and lived every day he could, like it may be his last.

After the events explained in my previous post the only concession I made to my appearance was to tone my make up down slightly. When we filled into the service there were no seats left and the music playing had slightly unsettled my Dad whose musical taste is from a very different era. We found ourselves directed to a crowd who were standing huddled by the doors near the front, the only space left. Without being asked the young mourners seated in the front row beckoned us to take there places. Young people unfairly too often get a bad press these days, especially those who go out to enjoy a good night out. There is good and bad in everyone regardless of age gender or race.

Seeing "R" coffin directly in front of us between the curtains and listening to all heart rending readings including several from face book comments made me feel so humble, so aware of our own mortality and how fragile life can be. I was not alone as I cried my eyes out, like so many others, whoose cries echoed through the room. When the service was over and we had all payed our respects we walked outside, to a shelter from the deluge of rain, that would not stop, just like the torrent of emotions.

In a sea of young mourners we noticed Dads sister, my auntie who has dementia, cast adrift, looking heart broken, vulnerable and so alone. My cousin was doing her best trying to thank everyone for coming, her husband was in pieces with grief, her remaining son elsewhere in need of some quiet space, leaving my Auntie to fend for herself. We rushed to comfort her at the same time dreading how she may react. She was so pleased to see some old familiar faces.

To see my Dad finally talking with his sister again face to face rebuilding their friendship was a great comfort. She recognised my Mum and her friend we had bought along with us. Not wishing to unsettle her I waited patiently to see any recognition of me, longing to reach out to her but she was totally bemused as to who I, the complete stranger was. The time was right, it really was a case of now or never so as reluctantly agreed with my cousin, Dad introduced the strange woman who was standing alongside her very discretely as Rob. "I did not recognise you, you rascal, you have grown so much taller" she said as we hugged. I have always had long hair and her recollection was probably from me many years ago due to her condition. A very minor piece of family business in proceedings, our small family had been dreading could possibly divide our family for ever, had been overcome. Sadly with her short term memory being so bad she has probably already forgotten the encounter but hopefully it will make a difference to our family. If only her cruel condition would allow her to forget the pain she feels at losing her beloved grandson which will I am sure stay with her for ever and remember only the wonderful times they shared together.

There was a small price to pay as it hurt for a moment being called Rob and it still felt perhaps a compromise too much at the time. It weakened my self respect a little but it was worth it, for family unity. Is a little compromise not a price worth paying to unite a family and prevent a life time of regret? I guess it depends on how much you value what is at stake. I know for me, from my humble life experience, there is a huge difference between sacrificing your life for your loved ones wishes/feelings and small compromises. Life is too short. The day was all about "R" not me. When it came to us offering our condolences to both my cousin, her husband and remaining son, we all exchanged hugs and kisses, no words could ever heal the pain we were all experiencing. As the service came to a close the song associated with his favourite sport football "You'll never walk alone " hauntingly played out. Music was his life his love and his spirit will live on forever.

I have since spoken to my cousin who was so very brave, she was comforted by the incredible show of affection for her beloved son by so many. She has given her blessing for us to resume visiting her Mum again as our meeting did not cause any adverse reaction. So this outcome at least means our remaining family can be reunited, we can now visit my Auntie again. My cousin may be able to gain some much needed respite from caring for her Mum when she needs to, as we can now openly help her as we had always wanted to. In a day of tremendous sadness this really was a small chink of light. Mum Dad and I and our remaining family got through a day that will live forever in our hearts.

Sometimes on this journey through life we have to compromise, sometimes I feel old before my years, sometimes only recently I have felt reborn, almost a second puberty, like a teenager, only knowing by my life experiences "I know nothing" but in my heart I wish I could be forever young.

Happy Easter
Peace be with you


Anonymous said...

Its amazing how the cycle of life works.
We see endings of life but at the same time new beginings.
I am glad that something positive came of the funeral for your family. You should be very proud of yourself for being so selfless. It could not have been easy.

Debbie K said...

Dear Lisa
It was for me yet another life changing experience, which made me re-evaluate my outlook on life. His creative talents, his passion for music and the impact the songs which were played had on my emotions are still with me now. Out of great saddness there was something very life affirming and positive. I so admire those who can express themselves creatively through their music.

Jo's thoughtful response to my previous post in retrospect made me look back on the day in all honesty knowing I was true to my heart and felt completely authentic. I was but one small female member of the congregation and treated with the social graces appropiate to my gender throughout. Only for a split second for the sake of my Aunties health did I feel compromised.

GirlWhoShould (Lucy) said...

I have rather shamefully only now caught up, a beautiful write up of what was a very sad day for everyone.
Lucy x