Usually on work days, I get up between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning. Today, I was up before 5:00, so that I was ready at my computer at 5:00 - not for work. Instead, for the first time in my life, I attended a funeral service via live stream.
Last Thursday, at 10:30 pm when I was just about to turn my reading lamp off and go to sleep, my sister texted me, asking whether I had seen B's email. I had not, and immediately checked the email on my phone.
It was sad news: B's husband W had died of cancer. He was 73 years old, and until 2019, he and B were still making plans to visit us again - then in 2020, the pandemic put an end to all such ideas, as did W's illness.
B and W are our Australian friends; we have known them since 1971, when I was three years old. In spite of the long distance and sometimes infrequent communication, we never lost touch completely, and whenever we did meet or exchange emails, it was as if we'd just seen each other last week.
My Mum wrote a beautiful guest post about them in 2012; you can read it here. Now W is gone for ever, and we all attended his funeral service this morning - it was 1:00 pm in Australia, and a very hot day by the looks of it.
The service was very moving, with the children (all grown-up of course) speaking about their beloved Dad, and even mentioning each of the four of us by name when it came to talking about the friendships W had formed throughout his life.
The last time we saw W and B was when they were here as the biggest surprise ever, for my Mum's 70th birthday. You can read about that here.
Learning of W's death made me very sad, and this morning during the funeral service was not the only time I cried. At the same time, I feel grateful for having had W as a friend in my family's life, and for still being friends with his wife and children. In spite of being so far away, we mean a lot to each other, and it is times like this when I appreciate the opportunities we have nowadays with communication technology. I was able to "be there" even if I could not attend in person.
My thoughts are with B, her children and their families. You'd be hard pressed to find nicer, kinder people, and I am glad B is surrounded by them now and not all on her own.