Facilis descensus Averno

Tim’s funeral took place yesterday. I’d planned it carefully and it went as planned, so that’s a plus. I’d listened to so much music and read what was going to be said so many times that I couldn’t really evaluate for myself how it came over, but I think it was good. Several people had written pieces about Tim, as had I, rather than a chronological life story and that went well with the informal service I thought would suit him.

I spent the weekend cooking. Paul phoned on Saturday, as I mentioned, to offer to take bottles to the bottle bank, but I explained that I had to go shopping anyway. But I’d love to see him and Carolyn, so could they come for dinner? Luckily before I went shopping, Fiona got in touch, so I asked her and Pete to come too. Fiona doesn’t eat meat, so that necessitated a change in menu.

I’d been shopping the day before, in fact, and made a pig’s ear of payment. I went to Waitrose, bought lots of ingredients and also a couple of chickens and some vegetables for Sunday night. When it came to pay, I used Tim’s loyalty card, which I took several goes to make work, then put in my debit card. It rejected it. It didn’t get as far as putting a PIN in, it just said to take it out. After the second time, the cashier looked and said that I was putting it in the wrong way. Confusingly, I’d put it in the right way for every other payment machine but Waitrose’s, but I switched it round – it refused it. I tried with a card from a different bank, but the machine was thoroughly out of sorts by then and wouldn’t accept it. I got out a third card from a third bank – but by this time, there were two other assistants there and they finally persuaded the first card to play ball. Meanwhile, i was apologising profusely to the charming woman who was waiting to have her shopping scanned.

I felt that I’d never dare show my face again, but then when I had to shop for another dinner, I went back. And this time, I took great care and it was all okay. I made a fish pie with potato and sweet potato mash on top, a layer of tomatoes then fish plus sauce, then spinach below the mash. And courgettes to accompany. I made a chicken casserole to serve on Sunday night, making stock with the carcases, much of which is now in the freezer. I couldn’t sleep at all on Saturday night so took the opportunity to write a to-do list, which calmed me somewhat.

It was lovely to see Tim’s family on Sunday. And we had a good evening. Much wine has been drunk every day. There have been two additional trips to the bottle bank – I’d taken a dozen champagne bottles and thought half of them would be drunk after Tim’s funeral. Ten were. Plus beer and soft drinks. Tim would have loved it.

I’d been undecided whether I’d drive home tonight or tomorrow, but I decided to have a quiet day and night, and I’ve made the right choice. Alan and Linda left this morning, Indigo Roth phoned just as they were saying goodbye, then Clare next door called in just as we were finishing. I haven’t done a lot since, though I’ve started to pack the car. I’ve still got at least an hour’s work in the morning but I have stopped for the night, eaten leftovers and had a couple of glasses of white Bordeaux. It’s not 9 o’clock yet, but I think a bath and an early night are on the cards.

Today, I’ve felt calmer, not less emotional but more measured. I want, in the long run, to retain appreciation of what we had and put the misery of it not being for as long as we hoped, and of missing him, in its place, which is not to be ignored or unrecognised, but to be channelled into loving memories. This will take a long time and never work completely. I know that ‘getting over’ something never happens. It’s nearly 52 years since my father died and I can still see him in his coffin and I’ve never ‘got over’ his death. Nor anyone since, they’re all there in my mind. But frankly, having a (sorry about all the inverted commas, they’re not really my thing normally) ‘good cry’ does nothing for me. Occasionally bound to happen but crying for more than a few moments just gives me a headache and solves nothing. It’s safer to stay on a level, whatever level that is, than to dip too low. It’s so hard to rise from the depths, as Virgil put it so neatly.

So, home tomorrow and then I’ll organise Tim’s church memorial service in early November. It will be simple and I hope to aim for warmth and loving memories rather than anything heavy, because at least some of my grandchildren will be there. And then, food and wine to follow.

6 comments on “Facilis descensus Averno

  1. 63mago

    I think lago Avernus is just a victim of bad press : After all, there is the Hekate grove, the pictoresque grotto where Sybilla lives, and the city of Cumae (ruined) nearby – other destinations have less to offer.

    I hope you travel well and safe.

    1. Z Post author

      I read Paradise Lost at a pivotal age and have always had a sneaking regard for Pandemonium. I think the Sons of Belial, flown with insolence and wine were the clincher.

  2. Scarlet

    ‘A good cry’ always blocks my nose up, so I have a preference for ‘a good scream’ instead.
    I also get my card the wrong way round – it’s one of those things that I can never remember – it makes me look completely dippy, but I always ask now before shoving the thing in the machine.


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