‘The wind howls with the first scowl of winter. A smattering of snow, too little for snowmen, not quite covers the ground. Today we go to mark the passing, another Mark, and the iciness of the cold is fitting.’
Putting on my one and only remaining suit, the one I’ve begun to think of as my funeral suit, those were the lines that came into my head this morning. As I thought them I knew that Mark would have called me a daft bugger and that if my brains were gunpowder I wouldn’t have enough to blow my hat off. He’d follow this with a suitable insult, a swearword, and a wicked grin.
Mark was my friend for thirty years or so. I won’t go into the sort of person he was. If you knew him then you already know, and if you didn’t then I hope you have a friend as reliable and true as Mark always was. Unsurprisingly the large church was full and that’s a measure of a person in many ways. The old crowd were there to celebrate this complex and honest man and it was good to see them again.
As I sat watching the rainbow of colours created by sunshine through stained glass and playing on soft cream walls, my memories danced. What a help he’d been to me, someone who happily sorted out my problems and made my life easier. He must have been making his life a little harder at times by doing so, but it didn’t stop him. For a moment those colours gave me belief; quite in what is hard to define, but certainly friendship and love, the value of being part of a community and the importance of remembrance.
The ritual of the service was strange to me, but as I tried to sing hymns I’d never heard before I found it quietly comforting. The words spoken about Mark by his priest were honest, funny and captured that strong, brave man perfectly. Yes, he was often quick to flick a remark, even jibe, but he was always as quick to help whenever it was needed for anyone at all.
A couple of glasses of red at the pub with old friends, some laughs, a little gossip and some lovely ladies then back home to change in to civilian clothing once more. So with the cold day done I said my au-revoir, hugged, shook hands and left. Please God I don’t need to air my suit again for a long time to come.
And I felt warmer on the way home.