I wear red to funerals.

My Great Aunt Lorna died recently. She was an amazing woman – a real inspiration. It was partly her (and partly channelling Agent Echo) that gave me the strength to jump, to make the decision to change the course of my career. I’d thought I was too old, but reading her life story and speaking to her last summer I realised it’s never too late to make a change like that. I’m excited about my future again and it’s down to her.

Lorna was still so sharp last summer – frail and nearly blind but still more mentally agile than many people my age. It was a real pleasure to see her and I’m very grateful I had that opportunity – I hadn’t otherwise seen her since I was too young to remember. She fell ill a couple of weeks before she died and faded surrounded by people who loved her. After an amazing life, is there anything more you can ask for?

I feel so lucky to have had her in my life and in my family.

It was her funeral today. She was quietly Catholic and this was the first catholic funeral I have been to*.The choral music was something she had requested, and it was beautiful but I have to say the funeral itself felt more like we were standing before a judge trying to justify her route to heaven with our own faith (and many, maybe most, of the people there not being catholic or even christian this seemed an awkward task). It seems odd – if there is a loving God, as my Great Aunt believed, I don’t think they would require our begging, I think Lorna’s life would be enough to sequre her passage, but I’m not catholic so maybe I was misunderstanding the ceremony. There will be a proper memorial later in the year to truly celebrate her and her achievements, one that her friends internationally can attend, and I think that is the sort of event closer to what I am used to in a funeral.

I like to wear red to funerals. Not lots of red, just something. It started at the second funeral I went to, my Grandada’s. I wasn’t sure what to wear, not owning sufficient black, and someone – I remember it as my Dad, but I’m not sure – suggested I wore a red kilt-skirt I owned. Black may be the colour of death, I believe the logic went, but life is red and funerals should celebrate the life as well as the loss. For me, it has become also a reminder that life continues for the rest of us – that life is vital and wonderful and death is just a part of that.

Normally, death terrifies me but something about Lorna’s feels ok. She lived absolutely; lived and died with love.

 

 

*Talking to my Aunt’s husband, an ex-soldier twice my age, he and I have been to the same number of funerals. That was a weird thing to discover. Is 6 a lot when you’re less than 30?

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