He’s Gone, But The Show Must Go On.
A week later I had a girls weekend away in Washington DC, with Sarah and some close friends, taking in all the sights, and having an amazing time. When we got back to where we were staying on the Sunday night, I had a message from Andy, telling me to check my emails, as my mum had been trying to get hold of me. After waiting an age listening to the dial tone of the internet, then having problems even getting into my hotmail account, as of course it would be at that important moment I would forget my password! Then finally…..
We’ve been desperately trying to get hold of you, your Grandad died late on Wed. No other details as yet, contact your uncle for more news, as I’m still in Africa trying to get a flight back.
Love Mum x”
In an instant, my whole world just turned upside down…..
I called my uncle straight away but couldn’t get hold of him, what with the time difference, and him being with my Nan, but I couldn’t bring myself to call my Nan, I mean, what would I say to her if she answered?! It wasn’t til I got back to Bethlehem the next day, that I finally managed to speak to my uncle. The line was bad and details were hazy, just that the funeral would be very soon, and to get on a flight home ASAP if I wanted to be there…. My mind was whizzing at a million miles an hour -of course there was no question, I wanted to be there! …..But we were due to be here another 3 weeks, after just finishing our Bible School course, and had some really exciting trips booked, I didn’t want to let people down… and we had planned to go and visit everyone from the church who had supported us, to say thank you, and goodbye…… wait could I even exchange my set date return ticket, and would I get a flight home in time??
……Then it sunk in, like I had been living this dream and someone had woken me up, like a punch in the stomach it hit me- my Grandad was gone, I wouldn’t ever see him again…….and he wouldn’t be at my wedding…..
I was devastated. I told Sarah and Andy I would fly home alone, and encouraged them to keep their plans, as we were so excited to be going to Niagara Falls and other amazing places. But there was not even a discussion, they both wanted to come back with me so I wouldn’t be alone, giving up 3 weeks travelling around and seeing some amazing sights….. for that I will forever be so grateful, as I don’t think I could have coped with that flight solo.
My American family sorted everything, re-booked the flights, cancelled our plans, and explained to everyone about the situation. Leaving was harder then I thought, as I had grown so close to everyone, especially my American Mama Vickie, and the Smooth Stones crew! The whole church there had become like one big family to me, too many to mention by name, but each of them impacting my life in their own way. I was truly blessed, this year had not only helped me to grow in my faith, but to grow as a person too, from teenager to woman.
It was a tough flight home, and I knew the other end would be tough too, as my parents were now in Africa. I felt like I was in between families, I mean my parents weren’t there anymore, but I wasn’t married yet so I didn’t belong with Andy and his family either. I had arranged to stay at my friend Sues house, until we got married. I had never felt so alone, as I did that first night, and I woke the next morning to find my pillow still wet with my tears from the night before. Although Sue did all she could to make me feel welcome, it took me a few weeks to adjust, I think it was hard for me being back home, but not at my old house, and my parents gone, whilst trying to cope with the loss of my Grandad.
The funeral was so tough, the last time a relative had died I had been 14, so this was the first loss I had really felt and understood as an adult. My Grandad had really liked Andy, after grilling him on their first meeting, and told me he was a good judge of character, and that I had chosen wisely. They got on very well, both sharing a similar sense of humour, and of course a shared love for a certain ‘Menace’, that’s what my Grandad used to call me anyway- (I’m sure it had nothing to do with my constant cheekiness, and longing for adventure, that always seemed to land me in trouble!!)
Planning a wedding now seemed so wrong, we brought it forward so my Grandad could be there, and now he wasn’t gonna be. But there was so much already organised, and he was so chuffed when he was told we were bringing it forward for him, this is what he would have wanted. So we decided to continue.
A week after the funeral I put my big girl pants on, and got my head into gear- if he couldn’t come to the wedding, I would find a way for us to remember him there, include him in some way. We only had 2 1/2 months til the big day- so it was full steam ahead! We had decided to just do a short reception, finishing after we had eaten, so then Andy and I would make our way to Scotland, for our honeymoon. (My Aunt and Uncle had promised to make themselves scarce for the week so we could stay at their place, and have some time to ourselves, as we couldn’t afford to go away anywhere.)
First to check in with Mary & Paul, Andys parents, to see if they had managed to book a place for the reception. Paul worked as a traffic warden, based at the Lincoln Police Station, so was able to get the rec room there, with bar, for free! A little unorthodox, and certainly different, but frees always good, right?!….
Unfortunately there wasn’t room for everyone we would have wanted to invite, but we sadly couldn’t afford to be choosey. I must admit it wouldn’t have been my first choice, but with limited funds it suited us perfectly! One thing to tick off the list! We had a very tight budget of £1000 for everything, bar the dress, so decided to ask people to bring a plate of food to the reception.…. Ok so this wouldn’t be the wedding of my dreams, but I was about to marry the man I love, and that’s all that mattered!
Mary kindly offered to make the bridesmaids dresses, and said they would sort out the men’s suits, and the first toast. My dad offered to make up my bouquet when he arrived about 2 weeks before the wedding, and my Nan paid for the cake, an M&S speacial! A friend who was becoming a photographer offered to do the photos for free, and another friend offered to lend us their nice car to get to the church. Then my bridesmaids mum offered to buy a large ham and some other bits for the reception, and my aunt, who was an ex air-hostess, offered to do my make up. It was all coming together, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our family and friends!
I was so organised I had lists for the lists, and it was all going to plan, well mostly, until day before the wedding….
Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next in part 4; Best Laid Plans.