I've just returned from a few days with my mother again, this time to attend a funeral. It seems to be, as you get older, that funerals are more frequent than ever before, as gradually your circle of family and friends gets smaller.
This time, however, the death was the least expected. It was my mother's cousin who had been more like a sister to my mum than a cousin. They telephoned one another at least once a week and occasionally the cousin visited my mother and took her out to lunch somewhere. They had been chatting on the phone only the day before she died and been out to lunch together only a fortnight before. The cousin had not been seriously ill and had only gone down with a mere cold a few days before. It is true to say she was painfully thin (and we often suspected she was verging on the anorexic), so maybe this did not help her general health. On Good Friday afternoon, she had gone out shopping with her husband, but was feeling unwell with the cold and went to bed early on Good Friday evening. The next morning at 5am, her husband discovered her lifeless body beside him. The post-mortem revealed she had died of broncho-pneumonia. Her sister rang me a few hours later to break the news to me and it was the hardest news to take in. Even now, none of us can really believe it. She was 71. For her it was the best way to go - to go to sleep and not wake up, but for her husband, sons, grandchildren and wider family, it just doesn't seem possible. The funeral was held last Friday in sunny Hastings. The weirdest thing was eating a piece of Simnel cake at the funeral reception that she herself had made for Easter.
Always tell your loved ones you love them: you never know what the next day may (or may not) bring.