My mum had a birthday today and my best friend's mother passed away last week.
I took my mum out to dinner last night to celebrate her birthday a day early. I couldn't visit her tonight, as I had parent teacher interviews and was tied up explaining to parents that little Johnny needs to put his head down and do some work. My dad still laughs at this every year, as he recalls me sitting on the other side of the interview table when I was a teenager. (Ironically at the same school I now teach at!) Anyway, with my mum, my wife and my dad, I drove up to Healesville and had a lovely dinner. We told stories, laughed, talked about the future and had a great time.
All this, only six hours after standing at a graveside.
Is it only me that silently mouths "Funk to funky" whenever a preacher says "Ashes to ashes"? I stood at the grave and watched the casket glide down into the earth. The beautiful hills sprawled across the horizon and I felt the warmth of the spring sun on my back. For a moment I felt guilty as I basked and enjoyed. My best friend stood a few metres away, obviously overwhelmed. I tried sending good and supportive vibes in her direction. I hope she caught them.
The funeral was lovely - as lovely as funerals can be. I think I'm getting to the age where I tend to catch up with some old friends only at the passing of another. Between my mum and my friend's mum, Jean, I spent a lot of yesterday in the past. I've known Jean for 40 years. She was always lovely to me, always asked after me, was always concerned about me. Even as recently as a few weeks ago, as she lay in hospital, she asked about my wife and I. And although I didn't get to go and visit her, I asked after her too.
So the day ended up with me thinking about life, mortality and grabbing opportunities.
I owe my best friend more than I could ever repay. She's taught me a great deal about life, living, taking risks and chasing dreams. She's responsible for a great deal of what I've done over the past ten years, and has (until my wife took on the role a couple of years ago) been my greatest supporter and most active encourager.
She's the reason I teach, act and write. And a great deal of her encouragement can be directly traced back to her Mum.
Jean, I raise a glass to you tonight. Time to rest now. And Mum, Happy Birthday. I truly hope you're around for many, many more.