I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has been a rough year for most; for me, the problems of 2020 actually began back in November, November the 2nd 2019 with my introduction to Flora Walsh. I think you all know the circumstances of what happened that day. The knock on effect was that over the next couple of months, I became anxious about going out. Found myself jumping at the slightest of winds. Looking at every tree that I came near. There was at least one occasion when I woke for work and the prospect of a forty minute drive through the New Forest, when the sound of the wind ripping through the trees in my garden was enough for me to abort, go back to bed, and hide away. Every drive that I took at night became difficult and extremely tiring. And it’s not that the accident happened at night, it’s just that I knew the trees were there moving around in the wind, and I couldn’t see them, I could respond or react to them. The one thing that kept both me and Jacob safe that day was the fact that I saw that oak tree fall, and was able to react to it. The one thing that all my “what ifs” hang on, is the one thing that haunts me.
Something that took me by surprise in the first few months after Flora’s death was how sensitive I became to my emotions. I’ve always been a closet film cryer. I’m a sucker for a sad movie, that moment when the lump grows in my throat, and that little bit of salty water escapes from the corner of an eye. However that has become so intense for me recently, and not just films, but music too. I seem to constantly be on the state of near hysterical teary breakdown. There was one evening when a Dolly Parton song “Me and little Andy” came on the goggle box… and I just blubbered, out and out broke down and wept…. I don’t know why, but I can’t even read the lyrics for it now without welling up.
Bizarrely enough, lockdown kind of put and end to that. I threw myself into work, it allowed me to concentrate, and push away the unimaginable. I obviously didn’t go out so much. I almost forgot about the whole process. It just slowly slipped to the back of my mind. But, as we head back in to the winter, the winds are picking up, and Flora is on my mind a lot. The last week I have been on edge with everything going on outside my window. Events of that day remain with me as they probably will for the rest of my life.
“Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes”
I’ve been relatively lucky with death. If lucky is the correct word to use in this situation. I’ve always said that the reaper hasn’t taken from me directly. Sure, I have lost grandparents, I’ve lost Aunts, I’ve lost work colleagues, and I’ve lost friends. So yes, I have been around death lurking at the fringes, and I think a lot about it…
I think about a lot about a friend who lost her child to Cystic Fibrosis at young age. I think about my cousins who have lost their mother. I think a lot about my wife who’s mum was taken away from her way too early.I think about my parents who have lost their parents. But I generally don’t have to spend time thinking about my loss.
“There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down”
The death of Mike Singleton shook me, I wasn’t very close to Mike, but we were at the stage where we talked online most days, so I missed him, I missed his conversations, I missed having someone to talk with, and question about his game. The death of Flora has been completely different. I didn’t know her. The only link we have is that we were on the same road, around the same place, when that old oak tree was brought down by winds apparently from the fringes of Hurricane Pablo.
“I have to say that although it broke my heart, I was, and still am, glad I was there.” – I am the sole chronicler of that moment, and it’s important that the family had the option to know what happened. But being that chronicler has taken its toll.
“Life doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes.”