A few months ago, Alex and I decided to hold a celebration of Nick’s life, an opportunity for all those who couldn’t attend his funeral to get together to honour his memory.
I was so relieved when Alex offered to organise it; that sort of thing stresses me out. She has a friend who manages a bar in Harrogate, so that was the obvious venue, it would be held a week before the anniversary of his death.
I travelled to Harrogate on Easter Sunday, only to hear on my arrival that Nick’s brother had died the previous evening; so cruel that they both left this life within a year of each other.
During my first week Belle and Immy were on holiday from school, so I made the most of the chance to spend time with them, swimming, going to York, visiting Harlow Car gardens and generally spoiling them, as grannies are entitled to do.
The second week I took Immy to and from school, to give Jean and Doug a break, as well as catching up with lots of old friends. Kieran joined us on Wednesday, he was definitely in need of a holiday.
The day of the memorial arrived. I woke at 5am, suddenly aware that the niggling feeling, in the back of my head for weeks now, really had to be addressed; I was going to have to say something to our assembled guests, to give focus to the event and thank them for coming. Not something I’m used to doing, I felt quite sick at the prospect, but if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that we can all do anything we put our minds to. I made some notes – I thought it was quite acceptable. However, Gemma is very talented at this sort of thing and, not being able to join us for the day, was feeling quite left out, so I sent it to her for tweeking. It came back infinitely improved, but too long now for me to learn by heart in the hour before we had to set off.
Alex had had loads of photos of Nick printed, which we hung around the room and which were added to by friends when they arrived.
At 1pm they started to pour in; people I hadn’t seen for years and years, old friends from the children’s school days, Nick’s work colleagues, people he’d cycled with; they came from all over the country, London, Oxford, the Lake District, one friend even flew over from Northern Ireland.
The atmosphere was lovely as we reminisced about old times and shared our favourite stories about some of the crazy things Nick had done over the years.
I managed to get through my speech without bursting into tears, unlike each time I’d practised it, so once that was over I could begin to enjoy myself.
By 7.30 everyone had left and we went home, exhausted, but happy to know that the event had been a success and that everybody seemed to have enjoyed themselves.
A group of us met up for breakfast in a café in Harrogate the following morning; we had so much to talk about that breakfast ran into lunch, then continued to afternoon tea and cakes; we finally left after 3 o’clock, when they asked us to move as our table was booked for another group.
On Monday I took the bus to London to stay with my brother Peter and his partner for a couple of days, before heading home on Wednesday. Happily the weather is warmer here – I was frozen most of the time I was in Harrogate – must be going soft in my old age!