Country NSW, May 2016
It was late Sunday evening, May 15 2016 and I was tired. Very tired.
I’d been running off four hours sleep a night since Wednesday and it was beginning to take its toll, despite the amount of coffee running through my arteries.
The house was quiet for the first time in days, considering the amount of people in it. Everyone was out the back around the hangi. Food always has a way of making a crowd smile, much like the man we were celebrating.
I was sitting at the end of the dining table hunched over my laptop finalising the seating plan and schedule for the funeral, tasks which I felt as though I’d been working on forever. I had Word document among Word document open and as the final touches were being made.
I’d listened to the song over and over during the past few days. It was one of my uncle’s favourite songs. The more I listened the more reality started to sink in. Tomorrow was the day I’d pay my final respects to my uncle.
There had been months running between Melbourne and home to see him and, then, sitting beside his coffin here in the family home saying goodbye. The heaviest emptiness I’d ever felt. Like the emptiness I’d felt standing in the kitchen of my apartment making a coffee as I heard my phone bellow from my bedroom with mum calling to tell me he’d gone.
During the lead up to, and preparation of, the funeral the words of the song seemed to be in my head all the time.
Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world
I was searching for him. Although he was gone, he was still here, seemingly. The fact of his death had not fully hit me.
When I woke up, the rain was pourin’ down
There were people standing all around
Something warm runnin’ in my eyes
But somehow, I found my baby that night
I lifted her head, she looked at me and said
“Hold me darling just a little while”
I held her close, I kissed her our last kiss
I found the love that I knew I would miss
But now she’s gone, even though I hold her tight
I lost my love, my life that night.
Vivid flashbacks. The last time I saw him. The last time I walked in to the hospital room. The last time he looked at me. The last words he said to me. The last time I walked out of his hospital room.
I remember sitting in the church when this song played and everything just hit me like a ton of bricks.
He’s gone to heaven so I’ve got to be good
So I can see him when I leave this world too.