Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Over and Out

It feels like two of the brightest beacons guiding us home have gone out. In the space of four months we have lost both our fathers. Dad, after a ten year fight with cancer, my father in law unexpectedly, heartbreakingly, a few days ago. I am quite sick with loss - if it weren't for the practicalities of getting the children half way round the world for the funeral, I would happily crawl into a dark room and stay there. But the pilot is away for two weeks, meeting us in England, and so the daily routine of lunchboxes, school runs, plane tickets and kennels, and meals and coping on, and on - goes on. You carry on. Life goes on. But nothing makes sense right now.

It does not seem possible that this man, this remarkable man has gone. He was a diplomat, a polymath. When I first met him nearly twenty five years ago, he was not much older than I am now. Within an hour I realised he had forgotten more about philosophy than I had learnt in a year of undergraduate study. He had one of the most brilliant minds I've ever come across, a deep and considered knowledge of any topic you cared to discuss - but he carried that brilliance modestly and generously. His working life in Africa, Russia, Japan, the UN reads like something from a Le Carre novel both good and bad - he watched his family thrown out of Uganda by Amin's troops, and marched onto the plane with a machine gun pointing at the head of his infant son. When he retired, he was decorated by the Queen. But more than that  - more than all of that, he was the most noble, genuine man I've ever known. I grew to love him for the kindness, the decency and true heart hidden behind that imposing exterior. He loved his family. He loved his home. He adored his wife, gave her a bouquet of flowers every Friday without fail. His study was lined floor to ceiling with literature, art, but also framed paintings and photographs from all his grandchildren. He loved us all, supported us 100%, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have him in my family, to look at my sister and husband, at all our children, and to see him there. I feel lucky, and grateful, and I am going to miss him more than I can say. We are all heading home from around the world, quite sick with loss, to mourn, and to celebrate this man. I've been looking, and searching for something to make sense of all of this - all the usual suspects, C S Lewis, W H Auden - none of it makes any sense. The line that keeps coming back to me is this, from Gibran:
'The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain ...'

He goes on:

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight ...
I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 

To all those who are sitting with sorrow, I wish you well and may your joys soon awake. For now, it's over and out. If anyone has any wisdom to pass on and share, you know where the comments box is. Take care x


  1. Kate, I wish I had some wisdom to share. What an amazing man, an incredible loss, but it sounds like you were just so lucky to have known him. xx

  2. So sorry, Kate.
    I have no wisdom in this crazy world.
    Safe journey.

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  4. Kate, I'm so terribly sorry for your loss.

  5. Hugs and prayers and thoughts for you all.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear of this terrible loss to you and your family. My heart goes out to you all. ((Hugs))xxx

  7. Thank you Kirsty, Scarlet, Mieneke, Liz and Debs x

  8. Kate, I am deeply sorry for your and the Pilot's loss.

    I misread your link between the first and later parts of Gabril's poem and thought it was your epitaph for your Father-in-Law. "He goes on;" perhaps there is some comfort in those word? x

  9. Oh Kate, I'm so sorry.

    Yeah, true: "You carry on. Life goes on." But it can feel like an awfully hollowed-out sort of life at times like this.

    Thoughts and care to all your family, but especially of course to you and the pilot. If I could, I'd offer you a bouquet of Viola tricolor.

  10. Thank you, Tessa - I like that. If anyone deserved to 'go on' to somewhere better, my lovely fil did x

    Thank you, John - some 'heartsease' would be just the ticket ;)


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