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Life Chez Dee Episode #67: Edward and Raphael Part II

Those of you who follow my page may recall quite some time ago, I wrote a piece about *Edward and Raphael. Raphael’s bench is behind Edward’s bench, both of which sit underneath the magnificent oak tree in the cemetery.

Today we went to the cemetery to visit Edward again. It was nice to be able to drive in, it has been so long since we’ve been able to do this as the gates have been closed to cars (unless attending a funeral) since lockdown. Although it is only a short walk up to Edward from leaving the car at the gates, it really is quite a trek if carrying all the bits and bobs needed when we visit him. The bag we take is generally stocked with cleaning items, sprays and cloths; bottles to fill with water for cleaning the gravestone and bench, and of course for filling the vases, and watering the plants in the pots near his bench; and there’s wax for sealing the gravestone after we‘ve cleaned it, tea lights to light, a box of matches, and indeed the flowers themselves.

Today we took Edward some sunflowers. He loved sunflowers, being rather successful at growing them. On several years his sunflowers, grown from seed had reached the top of the garage, and the sunflowers which grew the year after Edward died had done from self-seeding from the previous year, which was really special.

I find sunflowers are not only cheery, they’re poignant as I’ve explained above, and they’re also fitting, not girly in softness or colour, they’re really a flower which I know Edward loved.

We parked the car near to the duck pond and walked over to Edward’s grave, where I noticed Barbara sitting on Raphael’s bench. We smiled, both remembering our conversation we had last year with fondness. She noticed the sunflowers straight away and commented how lovely they were, and we chatted for a while about them.

She was sad; sad to still be grieving; sad that she was still having to justify her grief. She told me how so many expected her to get on with life, how she should pull herself together. She talked about how difficult it had been to open some of Raphael’s boxes of things he had stored, and how it was like opening the box and letting him out again, and all the memories, and the remembering, and recounting and knowing there were no more, all came flooding again in full force. She spoke of how she knew that she ought to, and how really she knew she should be thankful for the 56 years she had with Raphael. She looked to me and apologised that she shouldn’t moan to me as it was awful for me that Edward had died.

I could have talked to her forever about how it was ok to feel this way, ok to not be ok, ok to feel close to Raphael still, and always. I held my tongue about how angry it makes me when so many others profess about how they think that they not only know what is best for the person grieving, but how easily they dismiss and belittle these feelings. I told her to be exactly as she needed to be, it was not only normal, but I knew how much comfort could be got from being inside those memories. I could have talked about this forever, but it was getting chilly, and I actually wanted to sit with Edward for a while. I told her about how I’d written a piece about Edward and Raphael after the first meeting we’d had, and how I hoped she would take a look at, and enjoy reading that piece of writing.

After we’d stayed with Edward for a while, and tidied and cleaned, I chatted some more with Barbara. She was upset by another person who we often see at the cemetery, who had all but chastised her for not visiting often enough. Shocking that this would even be said to another person grieving at the cemetery, but when she told me who had said this I wasn’t the least bit surprised. This same person is the one who tells Oliver off for sitting in the tree whilst visiting his brother, and even for walking around the base of the tree as she finds it disrespectful. Never does she say this to Oliver when I’m in earshot I might add, as she knows very well that what she says is totally unacceptable. Oliver behaves impeccably when he visits Edward, and I see nothing wrong with him sitting in the big oak tree which stands over Edward’s grave. If that is where Oliver feels close to Edward then I don’t see as he is doing any harm.

Barbara watched as Oliver climbed the tree and told him to carry on doing so, as it was so lovely to see him there. She asked me how he was, and I explained how Oliver misses Edward terribly, and being at home in lockdown has been hard for us all, being together, and yet not together, constantly being reminded that there is a huge void within our family. I explain that Oliver has liked being at home, knowing that all the other significant people in his life are there with him, and that although he’s working hard at school work with me, he has his dad at home and not having to work away.

We part company again, with Barbara saying that she’ll have a read at my piece, and I tell her that if she’d like to stay in touch, she’s welcome to email me via my website … I hope she does.

Our journey home is quiet and I’m alone with my thoughts. I think of Edward, talk to him, and I think how lovely it is to chat to another person … a stranger … and yet not a stranger; a person who has no connection to us, now connected; and someone who has through their hurt, taken more time and interest in finding out about us, and Edward, than many of those I know far better. Edward has brought some really beautiful souls to cross my path.

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