At the funeral there was a man and he was burying his wife. She had died of breast cancer, she had just turned 50.
Her husband was a big man, I had met him at their house, but he and I didn’t exchange a word. He was so distraught he couldn’t speak and her children did all the talking; he just sat with his head in his hands and he cried.
He arrived at the funeral in a pink shirt she had chosen for him. He asked me if he could go in and if I would close the doors behind him. It’s protocol that someone from the funeral home has to be present with the deceased at all times and on the day of this funeral that person was me.
I shut the door quietly and stood well back to give him some privacy. He took off his sunglasses and approached the coffin then sank to his knees.
Walking up to him I placed my hands on his shoulders. “You can do it,” I said, and he took my hand and pulled himself up.
He walked up to her, kissed her picture in a frame then lay his head on her coffin, and silently wept for a few minutes before saying to me, “She was the love of my life, not my first love, my last love, my forever love.”
He then took his seat, at the end of the row, almost touching her. I asked him if it was okay to let the family in and he said yes. I walked back up the aisle and before I opened the doors I looked back at him. I knew that he had never felt more alone in his entire life.
At the end of the service after she was carried by her children to the hearse we closed the doors and prepared to drive her away. He didn’t stay for a cup of tea and a chat, he didn’t say anything to anyone, he got on his motorbike and he followed the hearse all the way to the crematorium.
He had promised her he would never leave her alone.