Saying goodbye, the healing power of Phillia and a long walk

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant has thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” Samuel 11. Chapter 1.

David’s lament on the death of Jonathan expresses in exquisite simplicity the love of two close friends. The bond which unites friends can be very deep, though it is rarely lamented in public, either through prose, poetry, or song. Bernard Campbell, anthropologist (1930 – 2017)

These are the two components of Phillia – brotherly (or sisterly) love and friendship.

Today, with two close friends, I said goodbye to our dear friend, Joy. The four of us have only known each other for about six months, but we lament her passing as if we had known her all our lives. Indeed, hearing about her life I felt cheated not to have known her all my life and cheated that I am not to know her for the rest of my life. We met at a bereavement group at our local hospice, all of us having lost our husbands in 2017. We immediately found friendship, solace and understanding in each other. Joy was the sort of person who, once met, once befriended, one never wanted to let her go. Today was a testament to this, so many of her friends were there, all with aching hearts. We three were honoured to be called her friends, even for such a short time. We were honoured to be surrounded by her simply wonderful family. Goodbye dear friend, fly high, fly free…….

The long walk…..

I awoke at silly o’clock on Saturday morning, with Churchill’s ‘black dog’ snapping at my heels. The day did not reflect my mood, the dawn was breaking with a promise of sunshine. I had a choice, get up and get out, or put my head under the covers and wish the day away…. miraculously five hours later did not find me still in bed, but at The Ostrich pub in Castle Acre, where my little Jack Russel and I turned up after walking the first part of the Peddar’s Way…..

I set off as the sun was rising and walked the half mile to where the Peddar’s Way crosses over the road to Fring.

Passing our farm barns on the way…..

I love this Oak tree, and mean each month to photograph it and watch the seasons change……

Maybe this year I will…

The oak tree stands at the bottom of this farm track, the wood on the brow of the hill is called The Hanging Wood, not because we villages hung the poachers and the highwaymen from there, but because the wood appears to be hanging onto the side of the rise. Incidentally this is deemed to be the best pheasant drive on the whole estate; the birds fly hard, high, and very fast over the wood….

This part of the walk involves some road walking but the roads were very quiet, something to do with a Royal Wedding? Me, feeling a miserable killjoy, had decided that I just could not bear to watch the wedding, how could I watch all that love and happiness when my life is in such turmoil?

Even my poor bruised heart was uplifted seeing this field-edge crammed with Red Campion and numerous other wild flowers……

I arrived at The Ostrich at noon, and of course, there was the big screen TV, and the happy couple, and the bridesmaids….. Even my sad heart rejoiced (and wept) for them and silently wished them so much joy and happiness on, what for me was, the wonderful journey of marriage……

There have been and still are days when I cannot see the point of carrying on this journey through life without my love. If I’m brutally honest, there are so many quite selfish things I miss, for instance I miss not being the most important person in another person’s life. I am, of course, important to my children and grandchildren. But I am no longer in the centre of someone’s life, mostly I am on the edge of other’s lives and sometimes I am (although lovingly) just tolerated. I know it would be so easy to lean heavily on my young, especially Charlie, who only lives across the park from me. I am determined that I will not burden my children by living my life through them. But never again will I be the most important person in anyone’s life……

So what’s the point of carrying on? This is the point…..

On Saturday my youngest son Charlie picked me up from Castle Acre to bring me home after my walk. He’s the owner of a wedding business and had to call at one of the venues on the way home. He asked me if I minded waiting whilst he met up with the brides family, he had, he said, a couple of issues to sort out. My exhausted dog was curled up in the car, I went to the loo and told Charlie that I would wait for him in the garden, and off he went to iron out the glitches. I settled down on a sun-drenched bench well away from the wedding preparations (the wedding wasn’t until Sunday). And after a fourteen mile walk I (very properly) nodded off in the sun.

Meanwhile Charlie moved his car in order to deliver a barrel of beer to the bar area and left his car around the back of the venue. I snoozed. I woke about three-quarters of an hour later, there was still no sign of Charlie, so I thought I’d text him to see how he was doing. On looking at my phone, I saw I had seven missed calls from him, at this point I realised that my phone was on silent. Oh dear; I returned his call, but his phone was unobtainable (having run out of charge). Eventually he called me again. He had forgotten that I was waiting in the garden and didn’t spot me asleep on the bench. First of all he convinced himself that I’d had a heart attack in the ladies room. After checking he thought that maybe I’d gone to find the car, surmised that I may have thought that he’d gone without me and decided to walk, either to the Church or maybe to the pub or even the ten miles home. He’d got other people driving around the surrounding country lanes looking for me. By the time he made contact with me he was a trembling wreck, he’d had a real scare…….

And that’s the point. My place now is to be on the periphery of others lives, be it family or friends, or complete strangers. My place is to be here for others, to give whatever little I can, to add whatever I can to other’s lives. Charlie’s fear of “losing” me brought that home to me. It’s not about me, not about me being important, there’s a whole world of grief, of sorrow, of loneliness. If I fail others then I am failing myself…..

And finally a thought for the day

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. J M Barrie, novelist and playwright (1860 – 1937)

Love Susan x

This entry was posted in bereavement, children, churches, death, friendship, strangers, The Peddar’s Way, walking and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Saying goodbye, the healing power of Phillia and a long walk

  1. Susan, I am so glad you were finally found, and that you are now ‘finding’ a new place in your life and family. I am sure you have many more chapters to write in your diary.


  2. Chrissie Day says:

    I am sad to read this and do sorry about your loss it must be terrible to lose your love.
    Thinking of you


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