It’s been nearly two months since Anna left us. Abby has encouraged me to write a few lines and reply to those of you that have been in touch. I thank every one of you. I will answer all of you in person, I promise. In-between work and dealing with me, Abby has been on this blog occasionally to approve messages but can only do this when time allows so I apologise if yours has been a few days in waiting. The same goes for emails to her address, of which she has received over two hundred.
With the support of my parents and relatives, Anna’s foster parents, as well as Jess, Beth and Maria to name a few, I will get past the grief. I know this will happen, but it seems to be really far distant at present. To “move on” as one person put it, yes, but that’s the very last thing on my mind at the moment. I’m living between my parent’s and Abby’s house as I can’t bear to stay at Anna’s. Maria flew here from Rome to be at the funeral and stayed for two weeks. Jess did likewise from Atlanta. Anna’s neighbours from Durham take it in turns to visit me every day. There have been lots of tears but also smiles and some laughter, one can’t help but smile when thinking of Anna’s ways. I always have somebody to talk to. You know when people say others were a rock for them? It’s a phrase I dislike, but Abby has been that rock for me. Without her, yes, others would have stepped in however I don’t think I would have found a better person.
But I’m lost. I go to Anna’s apartment in Durham but I can’t bring myself to turn the key in the lock and her Tynemouth house has the same effect. Even though I lived with her in those places they contain far more of her than of me. I catch myself putting on a jumper at home and realise she bought it for me, or see her photo on Abby’s fridge, or the one of Anna and I on my parent’s mantlepiece, and cry my eyes out. Yesterday an invitation to a wedding arrived, addressed to both of us. I had to call the sender to say what has happened. This occurs on a too-frequent basis. I can also feel angry. At myself for not being here when it happened, at Anna for not telling us how ill she was, but mainly at the anger itself. There really is nothing to be angry about.
It seems like every day I receive sympathy cards. My expectation had been for a few to arrive at first but as more people find out about her passing it seems I receive more now that when it happened. Carl and the others have been collecting these from her homes for me. At the last count there were 167. Receiving these is good but also ignites the sorrow again. I’ve a constant stream of flowers too. A large arrangement arrived this morning from a charity she had worked with. As I was taking it into the house, in my mind I could hear my girl telling anybody that would listen that they should have given the cost of the flowers to the charity themselves. The sentiment behind the flowers is appreciated, though. Even though I knew my girl for twenty years and so knew her friends, it seems she had touched the lives of hundreds in some way.
You may be aware that Anna was left an inheritance, and that she didn’t know what to do with it. We in all of our time together never discussed how much it was as it wasn’t my business. She used to say that it wasn’t hers to spend. Anna’s will left most everything to me and so now it is my business and like Anna, I’ve no idea what to do with over five million pounds. The amount boggles my mind. Then there are the stocks and shares, the workings of which I have no clue about. At some point we’ll be setting up a charity for the homeless, or to help those that have been in prison and need work or something similar. The two young men that lived opposite me in West Adams will be funded to go to college. Abby, Carl and I will be returning there to wrap up my affairs soon, and once there will see what can be done about leaving something lasting that will be good for that community. Anna had some great work going on behind the scenes and I’ll try to continue that. Both her primary school and Durham uni want to have a plaque in their gardens to her, to remember her work and donations for them. Perhaps “our” bench, on which she asked me out that first time and now sits in front of her Tynemouth home, would be a better thing for them to have?
Her funeral was lovely, if a funeral can be described as such. Her closest friends were all that we invited as she wanted a quiet ceremony, but lots of others arrived and so the church and crematorium were overflowing. Since then just about everyone has expressed a wish that some sort of event be held so that they can pay their respects. Anna never ever wanted to be the centre of attention so we’re not sure she would approve of a large gathering in her memory. We’ll see. Mam’s sisters came over from India for the funeral. They’re still here and even though I’m always happy to see my aunts, their sorrow at my own sorrow is still evident. I’ve allowed them to practice some of their Hindu religious ceremonies for Anna such as preta-karma. They would have taken over the whole funeral if I’d let them, but they mean well. Father Dave conducted the service, something he told me that he never expected to be doing even though Anna had talked about it. He has been brilliant despite his own tears at her funeral and since. He held a mass in her name and has also taken some of her ashes to Rome, where he had permission to scatter them in one of the Vatican gardens. In Anna’s will she asked if he would do so. Maybe deep down, her religion was stronger than she let on or the love she felt for St Peter’s Basilica was reflected in that decision. The remainder will be taken to lake Windermere at some point. Anna adored the place and we spent many a day there both on or in the water.
Anna liked, in no particular order; socialism, fairness, children laughing, red roses, swimming in the sea, running, eating in a restaurant, eating in a greasy spoon, visiting other countries, getting lost in a strange place, churchyards, churches themselves, cream cakes, James Bond, long extension cables, power tools, diaries, wallpapering, ironing, football, ice hockey, basketball, skating, “the journey”, comedy, antiques, wooden floors, real fires, leaving the windows open even in winter, her Kindle, walking through fields, uniforms, family histories, her bay windows, proper gelato, kissing, hugging, anyone that could make her laugh, her work, Yorkshire tea, Green and Black’s chocolate, and of course her fish and chips.
My girl disliked only a few things, amongst them..
Mobile phones, emojis, short extension cables, people smoking, and “the sodding tories”.
This blog was also one of her favourite things, and she liked the people she met through it. Anna had written two more posts which are complete and she had also begun to record posts for YouTube. Maybe when I feel like I can, I’ll publish these.
If you can, take a few seconds to have a quiet time in which to do whatever you think is suitable to remember Anna. Some will pray although Anna would say this is a pointless exercise, but she may have welcomed a prayer. There has been an online memorial set up for her at https://annag.muchloved.com/
Once again, thank you for your support and messages. They mean a lot.
Yours, Ellie. x