Losing Kath

Love lost, read and found

Us ‘mere’ mortals

The telling of losing Kath from our lives have had me exploring too many accounts of uncanny coincidences and of shared anniversaries and repeating patterns through our lives, and yet being a realist at heart, I know their significance amounts to nothing more than sentimental. An emotional attachment to things can impact the things we perceive and when the emotional ties are strong enough, it is not unusual to dismiss the rationale that we stick to every other day of our lives.

I guess there are just profound moments in time that come around in all lives when no matter how small things might seem on their own, the occasion can have ourselves questioning their tiny relevance. More often a ‘mere’ coincidence is how we might usually label the things we quickly dismiss and then if it’s still needed, we might also add that it’s ‘nothing more’ or ‘just unfortunate’ or by those who look for what’s written in the stars; ‘it’s just meant to be’!

If I am truly honest with myself, a coincidence is nothing more than the word describes, but even so having experienced my fair share of emotional ones, I do believe ‘one’ should never be described as just being ‘mere’.

Interestingly, the Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘mere’ as a word to emphasize how small or insignificant someone or something is: ‘questions that cannot be answered by mere mortals’ and even used to emphasize that the fact of something being present in a situation is enough to influence that situation: ‘his stomach rebelled at the mere thought of food’.

A coincidence cannot exist unless it shares something in common with others, but they do exist nevertheless and when they happen, those that do are often labelled and dismissed without too much thought with what they coincide with.

This post is a ‘mere’ tribute to at least three such fated coincidences.

In the past year and a half I have written a lot about Kath and I and who we shared a lot of our lives with, and a bit less about who she shares her resting place with. The time between dying and being laid to rest is a delicate thing to want to try and write about when you want to show you care and still preserve some sensitivity. The 5th of November is the date when Katherine died, and I do not fondly care one moment for the anniversary, and when it actually happened; oblivious as I was to everything else going on at the time, even less about who she might be sharing an anniversary with. Of course now every year on Guy Fawkes night, the ironic fireworks celebrations are enjoyed with some bittersweet sad reflection, but the day is also the birthday anniversary of a long standing good friend of ours called Stefania.

Stefania came into our lives when we were in our early twenties and being one of my sister’s closest friends and the cousin  of her boyfriend, we all saw a lot of each other  socially week in week out while we were young and commitment free, and later when we were married and raising kids and going out was not the same priority we once had had, like many friends Stefania was still an ever present fixture on our scene, sharing many family celebrations, occasions and wonderful anniversaries with us.

As we did with all our friends, Kath and I loved to play pranks on Stefania and we would spend ages laughing just concocting tricks to play on her before she visited. I think it is fair to say that over the years Stefania was victim to many of our pranks but she was always still so very willing, and Katherine enjoyed each one with so much relish, she would laugh and laugh for ages, and nothing made me happier in life than seeing Katherine laugh.

Over time as we’ve grown older, we don’t see each other as much as we once did, but still we often reconnect at family occasions and find ways to talk from time to time, but nothing has diminished the times we’ve spent and as a consequence, I often associate Stefania with so many happy memories down the years.

As in the good times, when Kath was sick, Stefania visited her friend at home and at hospital and despite the missing laughs and though she probably felt powerless to be of any help, I know Katherine appreciated the solidarity offered by the visits.

It was the most unfortunate coincidence, when Katherine passed away on Stefania’s birthday! At the time I can’t remember if it went by unnoticed as I was naturally totally consumed, and the many days that followed after were no different either.

When it came down to planning the date for Katherine’s funeral, there were many factors at play that all had to be weighed up and considered. I can’t remember why exactly the funeral had to take place on the day that it did but I do remember when it came down to it, there were why I had to choose November 15th 2012 as the day I would have to bury my wife. That was a sad coincidence that back then I thought was a shame, but knowing we do not later readily remember the anniversary of funerals, I felt the coincidence would be nothing more!

I do wish however, I could have done something to avoid the day clashing with my elder sister’s birthday as now I am sure it must have spoilt her day back then but then again I don’t suppose any of us were in a mood to want to celebrate.

Now with the 15th November approaching though and it being the anniversary of my sister’s birthday and of the laying of my wife’s body to rest, I’d like to also acknowledge and celebrate all that they were and came to be to each other throughout so many long wonderful years. During that time they relied on the other so many times for help with each other’s kids and the school runs, the holidays, the after school support while the other one worked and best of all, for all the amazing family days out we all shared through the years and that those were wonderful special occasions we never got tired of sharing. The photos of all those occasions make up the backdrop of my happy marriage to Kath and so as much as it was a shame that my wife’s funeral on that day overshadowed my big sister Josephine’s big day, I hope that the occasion could also be seen as a tribute to all the other wonderful times and things they shared over the years. That day will always be one I remember for two massive reasons but only one I wish to celebrate; one sad day saying goodbye while stood at my wife’s new grave, and many more other family occasions wishing my sister ‘Happy birthday Josephine’.

Coincidences, by the law of averages just have to happen!

Last week I wrote about the lovely Ornella who had recently lost her life leaving behind two young 13 year old kids and a husband much like me, and how I had recently gone to see her at the same hospice were my Kath had died, and how I had taken the opportunity to go into the chapel there, and read through the book of remembrance to remember what it was that I had forgotten was written there.

On the same day that Kath died, many members of my family joined my daughters and I to sit there reflecting in silence, knowing Kath sleeping body was in the adjoining room and not knowing how to comprehend what had truly happened, we penned comforting tributes into the book of remembrance that I was supposed to never forget, but in the stress of the moment, I couldn’t remember a word since we left, and it took visiting Ornella almost three years later, to be reunited with them.

I wrote about how Ornella and her husband had donated to the hospice in Katherine’s memory and of the unfortunate coincidence of how they could never have thought to find themselves in the same situation just three years later, and that is where the ‘mere’ coincidences should have stopped if I believed there was even anything in them.

Then on the 9th of November just the other day, something else happened and I know in my heart, the significance amounts to nothing or maybe much more than just being sentimental. At the church service I was watching the family grieving and thinking of my own, when I got the strangest feeling. It started off as my stomach rebelling at the ‘mere’ thought of another possible coincidence, and at first the thought made my heart kind of sink but I knew it was the idea of an emotional attachment to things impacting on the things I perceive and when the emotional ties are just strong enough, but this time I did not dismiss the rationale that I stick to on most days life.

I guess there are just profound moments in time that come around in all of our lives when no matter how small things might seem on their own, we should question their tiny relevance. A ‘mere’ coincidence is how we might usually label the things we could quickly dismiss, but then what if fate made things ‘written in the stars’?

When the funeral procession went from the church to the cemetery, even though it was three years later, I stood the whole time by my wife’s grave, not knowing where to look or how to act in the coincidence while they laid Ornella’s body, diagonally right next to Katherine.

Perhaps there are at last two angels who know what if anything there is in any coincidence, but for me they will always remain questions that cannot be answered by ‘mere’ mortals.


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