Parts of last week were so intense that looking back, it feels like a lot more than just seven days.
Monday, Nov. 14, began at almost freezing point - 2 Celsius is very close to frost. The sun came out after a rainy morning, and in the afternoon I walked to our friend R's house to pick up the mail. It felt weird to think that he was not in there, but in a hospital bed many miles away.
|The same view 12 minutes later
I went to work on-site at my client's on Tuesday, the 15th of November. My sister's message about R's death reached me just after lunch. You can imagine I did not get much done that afternoon. Thankfully, the person I had a meeting with was kind and understanding, and after I wrapped up things for the day, I left at 3:00 pm. Getting off the train in Zuffenhausen (two stops before my hometown), I walked the rest of the way. This took me just under 2 hours, and I stopped at my Dad's blue bird marker at the graveyard before going to my Mum's for a bit. The walk helped; thoughts and tears flowed freely with hardly anyone about.
This year, I lost my Dad and three friends, the last one like a brother to me. My childhood friend's mother died shortly after my Dad; although that did not affect me in my daily life, it was still sad; another bit of my childhood and youth gone.
It was good to start Wednesday (Nov. 16) by meeting my friend and her little daughter. After dropping off little C at school, V and I walked and talked for about an hour before we went to our respective homes and started work.
My sister arrived home from the town where R had been in hospital and where she had been staying for several days. We met for a walk on the fields until sunset, something that did us both good. It was the first time I saw her in a while, and I had really missed her. As we all know, grief is an individual process that follows no set pattern. My sister suffers the loss of our friend terribly and most acutely, and of course our Dad's recent death does not make it easier.
I was back at my client's on Thursday, the 17th of November. This time, it was not merely for work, but also because I had put my name on the list for a flu shot - the first one in my life. All went well, and I had no side effects at all.
Friday, Nov. 18, was the start of a weekend without O.K. The village band are preparing their annual concert (the first one since 2019), and the entire weekend was dedicated to rehearsals, starting Friday after work until 10:00 pm and finishing Sunday at lunch time. It did not make sense for me to go there, and it was good to stay here so that I could help with the tasks around our friend's death.
Some of his siblings and friends gathered at our Mum's place, and I joined them later so that we could talk about the card they wanted to send out to notify everyone of R's death and the funeral arrangements. Those few hours at my Mum's were rather overwhelming, but necessary.
Saturday morning (Nov. 19) was spent cleaning, washing, ironing and so on. In the afternoon, I met my Mum and a friend at the Advent exhibition and sale of our local garden center. The center is run by one big family, and since one of the ladies is my sister's next door neighbour, for the past few years we have made it our family tradition to buy our Advent wreaths there and spend a couple of hours browsing, sitting down for something to eat and drink, and listen to a small brass band playing carols. Of course, the losses we have suffered so recently were never far from our minds and kept popping up in conversation, but it was something we needed, too; a little light at the end of a dark and difficult week.
Here in Germany, Sunday (Nov. 20) was an important day in the course of the church year: Every community remembered the people who had died during the year from their community. In a special service, each name is read aloud and a candle lit for them, plus an extra candle for all those whose names did not appear but who are also sorely missed.
We are not a family of church goers, but my Mum, my sister and I each watched the live streaming of the service online at our respective homes. We lit candles, listened to the music and to the words of the local priest, who spoke well and meaningful. I knew that my childhood friend whose mother had died was also watching. Don't ask how many tissues I needed during that hour, but we all agreed that it was a beautiful service, conducted with dignity and empathy.
It had been raining all morning, but by the time the service ended, it looked a little better. I knew that what I needed most now was a good long walk, and so I set out at a quarter to twelve to do just that, as you will see in my next post.