I mentioned the people who walked away from me rather than say anything about Luke last time; but didn’t mention the many wonderful people who came to our door, with hugs, flowers and sometimes tears. I will always be grateful to the friends who showed such care. A bouquet of flowers arrived one day from a total stranger; a friend and colleague of my older brother took the time to arrange flowers and write a very lovely heartfelt note. Endless cards arrived all full of very kind words and memories; one such card was from a probation officer, a young lady who’d spent time with Luke. (A hint of his mis-spent youth!). I had a bit of a task to do in the week after Luke died; I was changing jobs moving from the school I worked at in Edmonton to a school 20 minutes from home. Luke had worked at the school as a caretaker and had lots of friends there; I drove to the school on the last day of term to say goodbye and collect some belongings. I found myself comforting people after I’d spoken to the first few; I think even that early on that made me realise I would survive the loss of my first born. I had been due to start my new job in the middle of August; a month after Luke died but we decided to take a holiday and that fresh start was delayed until 1st September.
There were 4 young people who’d lost a brother/step brother; Alex and Jake at 17 and 14 were no doubt bewildered as well as wondering how they’d get over losing their big brother. A week to Turkey was book; for me that was all a bit surreal really, but, you really can’t sit around weeping and wailing for any length of time. Alex and Jake had, I think, a great time, all inclusive meant that both of them drank alcohol which they most probably shouldn’t have. But I know they laughed and hopefully got to talk to each other a little about how they felt. I think to a degree I just sort of floated through the week, but, I am one for a suntan and definitely enjoyed the lazing in the sun bit! It was a way of removing us from the every day, life has a habit of forging on; the world doesn’t stop when something bad happens it just keeps on rolling. And do you know what? That’s totally right, I have used the term before but I’m going to repeat it; a ‘new normal’ had to be found and lived.
Going to work was a part of that; I’m a huge believer in fate, Luke’s Godmother Wendy was already working at my new workplace. We’ve known each other since we were 4 years old, we went all through school together (aaaages ago!), I was bridesmaid at her wedding and we are both Godmothers to each others children. What chance that I would find myself in the same school; I can’t really say how her care in the last 5 years has helped me. A card on Luke’s birthday, a box of maltesers on the anniversary of Luke’s death. Here I have to add in a story from our childhood to explain the maltesers. I’d always wanted a dog but wasn’t to have one at home until I was 17; so in the meantime I walked a neighbours’ poodle; I’d been told to never let the dog off the lead. I’m sure you can see where this is going – being a stubborn middle child I of course decided to ignore that! The lead was unhooked and one of us, Wendy or I, held the collar while that was happening, the poodle? Decided to try and bite so the collar was released. Well, I wasn’t he fastest of runners but I’m sure at that time I’d have given Usain Bolt a run for his money! The poodle ran off I flew after her/him (far too old to call) thank goodness the pooch ran home. By this time I was in floods of tears; and explained (lied) that the lead had failed. I am ashamed as I recount this by the way! The very kind neighbours not only spent money on a new lead/collar, they bought me a box of maltesers. So, you can see that Wendy knows how to make me laugh! And, who doesn’t love those chocolate balls of loveliness! I’m not so sure you’re meant to eat a whole box in one go though! Maybe one day I’ll manage that!
The early days in my new job were a bit of a whirlwind and yet in a way it was really the best thing under the circumstances. I was generally fine all day as I was finding my feet and getting to know people; my most vulnerable time was when I was driving to and from work, had I been facing a 90 minute drive I’m not so sure I’d have started to heal as quickly. For a fair few weeks I’d start crying almost as soon as I walked out of the door. I started out counting the days I’d been without Luke, then the weeks, then the months. Then at some stage I realised that I didn’t know how many days or weeks, it took longer for me to not know how many months it’d been. Life was going on, sometimes that seemed almost obscene, my son wasn’t here, I would never see him again, how could things just carry on? But, do you know what? It has to, that’s only right! Life is a wonderful thing, it really is, in spite of some of the bad things that go on…. A harsh yet true saying – ‘Sh*t Happens’
Before I sign off for tonight I must share what we did with Luke’s ashes. I have such a strong belief that our bodies are mere shells once we die, Luke will always be in my heart and my head until the day I die, I felt no need to have a grave of any description to go to. For Luke’s birthday a gathering was organised where a firework containing some of Luke’s ashes was sent high into the sky; he was a free spirit that boy of mine, he’d have loved it! He’d have loved the fact that we nearly set fore to the surrounding ground even more! Another chance to marvel and in fact laugh in spite of the sadness of the day! I’d been shocked by the size of the urn containing Luke’s ashes, I’d had no concept at all! His Father had some of them and spread them near to where he lived. The rest? Irreverent moment coming up! Were tipped into a plastic bag – some went over the patio; and close family then walked down to a piece of land near the river where Luke had walked the dogs. I spread them around the area then added some wild flower seeds. Knowing Luke? Those ashes probably flew away not long after. Life is for the living, Luke is in my mind every day, I’ve never anted to take time away from the here and now to sit in a grave yard and grieve for him. Each to their own no doubt, but listening to music is more likely to summon thoughts of him rather than a morbid trip. This Thailand photo gives a old idea of the spirit of this young man, I have no doubt he’d be looking down and saying ‘what on earth are you doing Mum? Outrageous!’ at times, but I think he’d have approved of flying away on the wind.