Bradgate Park, Leicestershire and Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 2017
We didn’t plan on going to a concert in Edinburgh. We didn’t know we would drive to Scotland.
There were only three things we knew for sure when we decided to return to the UK.
Firstly, time was of the essence. Dave’s Mum rang us twice for Christmas Day last year. Short term memory was beginning to slip.
Secondly, the kids would be OK for the fortnight. Family, friends and school were rallying around.
Thirdly, with stapedectomy surgery scheduled to hopefully restore hearing in my right ear, flying would be off the cards for the foreseeable future and having the opportunity to return to the site of our son’s life-changing accident might help.
So, it came to pass that in the wee hours of our last night in Anstey I found myself frantically scribbling a “for” and “against” list for visiting Bradgate Park.
I finally settled on praying about it and asking for a “sign” before waking with a start at 6am feeling compelled, and able, to at least approach the park gates.
A quick Google search revealed the gates were due to open at 8am. We fill in time strolling the local streets, Dave distracting me with anecdotes along the way.
Passing a modest building, Dave tells me he came here as a child to buy bike parts and was surprised to find the shop owner “doubling” as a funeral director when his Dad died in 1983.
At 8am all is quiet and still.
I momentarily register in my periphery vision a couple of power walkers and a lone photographer making the most of the morning light, beyond the black wrought iron gates.
A Land Rover rolls past at a leisurely pace. Last time I saw a Land Rover in this park we were about to embark on a tour of the Bradgate House ruins for my birthday treat, while aunt and uncle watched the kids, until the radio call came in, “Clear the area, a boy has fallen from the rocks, air and road ambulances en route…”
Here and now, a deer disappears over the distant mound. Three ducks peacefully paddle, winding their way ahead of the flowing waterfall gently calling me towards the steep terrain of my nightmares.
We rest against a railing, cleansing tears falling towards the same path that had been as quicksand beneath my feet.
Facing upwards, the rocky ridges aren’t as menacing as my mind recalls. I scaled heights like these as a child. Thousands before have. Thousands yet to come will. Why couldn’t he “break” his fall?
As we turn and head back out the gates a siren wails in the distance. Part of me cries. The rest of me sighs. Not today.
Later that day we hug our extended family a little tighter and turn the page, towards breathtakingly beautiful Edinburgh.
It’s there that Dave says we can’t visit Edinburgh without experiencing a concert at Usher Hall.
Neither of us had heard of Father John Misty but swaying together to Smoochie we were happy. Pure and simple.
Stereo Story #627