I think that, to be honest, one of my overwhelming emotions, during the funeral service of my sister, was actually jealously! There’s a confession!
The service was held in the Mormon church in Northants. A number of people had been invited to speak. Apart from my elder sister and myself, there were two others – a friend of Linda’s who had shared responsibility for teaching the Sunday School children, and a man, possibly a church elder or something.
The first thing I envied was, I suppose, their very obvious and expressed grief. They cried a lot and wiped the tears away as they spoke about her. I suppose that over the last couple of weeks I have done a lot of crying, so it’s not that I haven’t wept buckets. I think it might be all this stiff upper lips thing, and being brave, but during the service – and doing my bit – I didn’t cry. Neither did my elder sister. We were sitting next to each other on the front row, listening to the speakers. I wondered if some people were perhaps wondering how I could be so dry eyed when they were weeping so openly. Maybe it was too much weeping for me – too unrestrained.
The second thing that I envied was how much more they knew Linda than I did. I know that I shared her childhood, but I have a wretched memory at the best of times. They were able to speak for ages about friendship and experiences over decades. Since moving up to Inverness, and before that, I saw Linda very infrequently. Joe and I would visit if we were down to see my mum. She has made it up to Inverness on a few occasions – but our meeting times were few and far between. I am not a phone person – so the spaces between meetings were not filled with phone calls, or letters.
There was almost this desire to tell people to stop crying so much, because they didn’t have the right to own such a close relationship with her…but they did. I was the one without the really close relationship, certainly in the later years.
The lady that spoke at the service came up to me afterwards to ask, rhetorically I think, if I could come and visit her every week, so it would be just like having Linda back in her life! Apparently where I looked like Linda (?) my elder sister sounded like her – the combination of the two of us was Linda to a tee.
My contribution to the service was a poem that I had written, though I did wonder how well it fitted with Mormon theology.
A Warrior's Return
I've fought the battle, won the race
And now I claim my crown
I come before Your throne above
And lay my trophies down
The strength was Yours, the gifting too
My part, but to obey
The light was Yours that showed my path
The lamp that led my way
The tears were mine You wiped away
With gentle, kind caress
The joy was Yours, at my return
Your smile of tenderness
I've fought so long and run so far
But now I'm home with you
And in your arms find peaceful rest
And know your love anew