Life Chez Dee Episode #4: Edward and Raphael
I went with Oliver to visit Edward. Such a beautiful day. Oliver had made a picture for Edward. He’d not made a card for his birthday this year, we’d been away, we’d got back very late, we were all tired, but this week with being off school, Oliver had chance to focus his thoughts, and as so very often he does, he drew a picture for Edward.
We duly put this in a plastic bag so it was all weatherproofed before taking it up to Edward.
It was, as always, so lovely up there. So tranquil, so silent. I sit on Edward’s bench, alone with my thoughts, watching as Oliver writes messages to Edward again with twigs that he’s gathered from the floor. He did this on Monday, on Edward’s Birthday, writing “Happy Birthday Edward” then. But the groundsmen at the cemetery have been round with the mowers. The message has been scattered, shredded, chipped up by the mowers. Oliver was upset … but we had time ….he rewrote his message “Happy Birthday Edward, We love you”.
We’d been there for 15 mins or so, when two ladies came to visit a nearby grave. One lady in her late 60s, I think; and a younger lady, her daughter. She came to chat with me. “I’m glad I’ve seen you” she said. “I love your bench. I love that it says Edward’s Bench.”
We talk about who she’s come to visit. It's Raphael, her husband. She also has a bench to sit on … the one behind ours. Raphael was from Belgium, they moved over here. He used to offer people a “petit café” when they called to visit … that’s why it’s written on his bench.
She told me how they moved to England, the house they bought, how they never spoke English together, how much she missed her husband, how her daughters missed their dad, how she thought she would move to be with one of her daughters. She told me about not wanting a stone, wanting a sculpture instead... a pomegranate ... how Raphael would have hated a stone, the pomegranate sculpture however, representing the soul's immortality seemed a perfect choice; they’d wanted a natural burial but it was full, so he was cremated, but how she’s so pleased that he’s also so near the beautiful oak tree that Edward is buried under.
We talk about Edward, his character, all the things he did. She chats to Oliver, and talks about the TEAM #forEdward Swimarathon tshirt he’s wearing. We talk about the disease which took Edward, and all that we’re doing in Edward’s name.
Oliver climbs the tree. She chats to Oliver up high in the branches. She gives Oliver a chocolate egg … Belgian chocolate of course. We talk about the tree, and of how Edward loved trees. How I know some of Edward’s friends who visit also climb the tree … for Edward … because he would do that … and he would like that.
I came away feeling content I think is the word. I would say happy, but that somehow doesn’t seem the right word. It was lovely to meet Barbara and her daughter Ellie, and hear her story, and hear about Raphael. How many more stories will I get the privilege of hearing I wonder? So many stories I’ve yet to hear; so many stories yet to be told.