It was a beautifully sunny morning, in the way that the autumn sun can pull the remnants of last night's rain off the road and provide brightness without a hint of warmth. I drove along the M4, up the M5 and Gloucester-wards.
A year ago today I was driving south after a couple of days at my mum's, listening to two new CDs and David Tennant on the radio. Rob Graham was driving north, taking his kids to see their grandma for her birthday. I made it home safely, having the luxury of an early start to avoid a bad weather forecast. Rob, my old friend, well, we buried him a fortnight later.
I wrote a lot about this last year. I've been back and re-read some of those words. On my birthday, the day before Rob's funeral, I wrote these words:
I am who I am, and for all sorts of reasons am the kind of person who doesn't wear emotions on my sleeve. But were it my funeral tomorrow, I would not want "achievements" mulled over and rehearsed for all to consider; it's the friendships & relationships we are given and which we create that make life so rich.
Today I stood at Rob's grave with his parents, George and Elaine, and then we went and had coffee together, and spoke of our year, of Rob, of the future, of family and friends. I wish I could tell Rob how much he meant to me. Those of you who are my friends around the world, whom I see so seldom, please know you mean the world to me.
Remembering is not done simply with tears and better intentions. It is done with lives and deeds. It is done with honour and the cherishing of memory so that the living we have is the better for the remembering. We recall not in order to wallow in nostalgia, but so that we may be better than we are, so that we might reach the standards we see in our better friends and that the days we are granted and they were not are not fallow but fecund with love and justice and goodness and kindness because for them not to be would mean we had simply forgotten.
And I for one will not forget. I cannot.