come sail your ships around me

It's good to be home, but I'm glad we went. Time seemed to pass very slowly and quickly, all at once, distorted by an intensity of emotion, by holding in and letting go. A reminder that grief is not a linear state but a country all of it's own. Julie's funeral was surreal as funerals are, but as G said, it's not the having of a funeral that makes people so sad but the reason for it. Which is obvious really, but I found this one particularly hard. Perhaps because we'd been going about normal life all week in our little world here in Melbourne; being sad (and stressed and anxious too) of course but more or less going about our usual business. Then suddenly, after being in a rush to get packed after work, Shan arriving and G taking Grace to Nana's (she wasn't at all unhappy about that) and after a quick drive through the rain to the airport, we're on the plane. We sat in a row, a quiet three amongst people mostly happy to be going away for the weekend. An hour later we were in Hobart, a town that's quite familiar, especially to Shan and Gerard who grew up there, but where nothing is as it was before.

On Friday afternoon, the chapel at the Cornelian Bay Cemetary was packed to overflowing and there were lots of red eyes and muffled crying. Some laughs too, as Julie's friends and family talked about Jules and her life. There was live music, of course, from some of the Mooks. And then at the end, as Julie's white coffin sank from the podium, the wail of her mother. Oh God.

Afterwards, people milled in the sunshine and hugged and smoked and greeted and talked. And then repaired to the pub for a drink and more hugging and greeting and talking and drinking and smoking. As you do. And although Julie's passing makes no sense at all, indeed there has been no cause of death found; no heart attack, no embolism, no aneurism, no identifiable cause, it feels right to come together, to all feel sad all at the same time. What else can you do? I don't imagine any of those closest to her are going to feel anywhere normal for some time, but that's not the point. It's a big thing when someone dies and I guess I'm saying here that I'm a believer in proper funerals. Steve didn't have one and I wish he had. Of course we don't want people around us to die, but when they do, it's better to honour them properly. We don't want to go but are drawn nonetheless. Once you're an adult, funerals are one of those times when you really just have to turn up. And be present as best you can. Well, that's what I think anyway.

My heart is heavy again. And although I feel more committed than ever to this life and those in it, I find myself thinking some dark thoughts. What about those who don't have anyone to mourn their passing? Or those who lose family member after family member in war? And how might it feel to be in a strange land, struggling with a new language, new ways and still in sorrow. Where people don't always see your grief because you have different coloured skin. Sigh. It's been a long week. I'm quite glad tomorrow's a holiday. Even if it is for a bloody horse race. I plan to spend some of it pruning the daisies, some of it sewing and good bit of it playing run run with Grace under the clothes line. And maybe some time for quiet reflection.

It wasn't an out and about type trip, but I did find myself with quite a bit of time just hanging around with the camera. Five beers and I can't hold the camera steady, although I was very careful not to drop it. You can see pictures here. Probably only of interest to people who were there.


  1. I think you're right that in the end we can just turn up as best we can, and I think that's an important gift to give our dead friends and those who remain to deal with their passing.
    It seems you've had such hard times this year, I hope things begin to be brighter.

  2. And burn your bridges down.
    God, Janet - you made me cry. Especially when the mother wailed...
    I'm not good with death, I avoid it.
    I've never been to a funeral.
    take care

  3. Oh! And I think I can hear the mother's wail for her departing daughter. Once again I say you write so well, so evocatively, so sensitively, so thoughtfully.
    Blessings and bliss from The Trad Pad

  4. Lovely photos as always - very appropriate, black and white.

  5. I simply don't understand life sometimes - then again, I suppose I'm no meant to. The loss of your dear friend is one the saddest things I've heard about in a while. You think if a cause was known that it would help - but it doesn't bring her back. She certainly looked liked a gracious soul. I am so sorry for your and her family's loss...

  6. I agree with you, I need a proper funeral: a chance to pay my respects and say goodbye.
    I hope your day has been peaceful.

  7. warm thoughts and lots of love.

  8. i'm so sorry about your friend.