Tuesday, 15 January 2008


I have read again the early entries in my old handwritten diary, and I am glad that I wrote them down. Now I can hardly recall those days which passed by in a blur of activity, with two Thanksgiving services, one on 22nd September and one on 23rd. Friday and Saturday respectively.
I don't know how Donald, our minister at church, (or Team Leader as he prefers!) ever managed to put them together so beautifully in such a short space of time. I do recall he came to see us, the four of us, to map out the outline, and he had the most amazing suggestions. Each of us added a little bit, so we all made our own contribution, and then Matt's friends also, with readings and prayers. How did I function during those days? I know I did, as lots of people came and went.

So followed a week with the Police Family Liaison visiting us, keeping us informed as to the release of the bodies, where they were taken before that, and when the postmortems had taken place. That I could not bear...........................the thought of Matt on a cold slab, alone, injured and being opened up and his vital organs being poured over..........................it has made me cry again to think of it. But it was there in my mind in the quiet times and the early mornings.
Friends just kept on bringing in hot meals each evening for at least 4 weeks, and also sandwiches appeared each day, sometimes I would find a small plastic box on the doorstep containing cake or flapjack. To this day I have no idea who brought them. One of our friends actually cooked dinner for us on the Monday evening, 11th September, for 5 of us. Alan's friend being here. We were all numb with shock and lack of sleep.
Then the cards started to arrive, flowers and more people! During that following two weeks a tidal wave of love came into the house. People visited, stayed, 'phoned, wrote notes, letters and did practical jobs like ironing.
We worked on the African village principle, which some of our Mission partners had told us about. When someone died, the whole village would go and sit in and around the hut, just being there for 3 days, grieving and mourning.

That's how it felt in our home.
Matt and Heidi's friends were constantly about, comforting her, and our friends came and did the same for us. Alan needed his own space at times.........it was too much for him, and someone loaned him the key to their home. It was an enormous sense of help, comfort, and support.
One of the things I can recall is wanting to go through with a fine toothcomb the last few weeks before Matt died. It's as though my mind wanted to make sense of all that had happened. It couldn't reconcile the days and weeks when Matt was alive, to the ones in which we now found ourselves.
Picture of Lizard Lighthouse taken on September 9th 2006. The day before Matt died.

When was the last time I actually saw him?
What did we talk about?
When did I last speak to him by phone?
What did we say?
It became almost an obsession with me to have them ordered, as if my mind would be able to understand it better.
Last text message.......................this one taking on an importance all of its own , and to this day, I still have it on my mobile phone.................
The date..........8th September 2006 1.00pm. He had replied to a text I sent him saying I'd videoed a seal at Lizard Point for Heidi. We were in Conwall for a week, 2nd - 9th September (06)
What did it say, "Thanks! Heidi will love the video!"
Those were his very last words to me. Two days later he was dead.
So, the picture of the lighthouse taken the day we left to come home, has also taken on a life of its own. It was taken the day before he died. We then left to call on some friends in Bude on our way back, arriving home around 8.00pm on the Saturday evening.
It was a lovely month for weather.
On Sunday 10th, Matt and Chris and several more friends went to the Test match at Edgbaston. Usually he would keep phoning us up to tell us the score when he got very excited, or text to say another wicket down!
But his battery was dead and so he never received any of our text messages, and we did not have any from him. As England won, it was very unusual!! And after the accident, I so, so wished he had been able to receive them. But I was pleased they won. He would've been euphoric about that!
I think I wrote in my Teapot blog all about that too.
Even then it was as if I had to grasp what had happened................

Our immediate family began to arrive, some to stay, some to visit, some for the day even. Most of them living in the North of England it was a long way to travel. I discovered that my sister and her husband both took a day off work on that Monday morning, 11th September, to drive the 50 odd miles to my father's in Lancashire, rather than have him find out over the phone or have someone else tell him. I know now that he thought they had just decided to pay him a surprise visit...........................touchingly poignant really.
All our relatives had their own stories as to what they were doing, where they were, when the news was broken to them. Stephen's brother and his family, my sister and her family. My nephew had just flown to Thailand on 9th September, at the start of a 12 month "round the world" back-packing adventure. It wasn't easy to tell him, and it wasn't easy for him to hear. But we all said Matt would've wanted him to continue.
Then there were my cousins...................
The ripples went on ever outwards affecting more and more people.
My sister and husband brought my dad down with them on the 16th September, They gave me a magnolia bush, as we went to the garden centre, just to get out for a bit, away from the mayhem. It was the day before my dad's 88th birthday on the 17th.
The 17th was a Sunday, exactly one week since that awful night.We all decided to go to church, as it was a special service and Chris's family were going to be there.
It was extraordinary to see so many people there, and to feel the love and compassion. It was not easy, but I was so comforted by the worship that I simply sang my heart out. That's how I feel at times. Joy in the midst of all the pain. It is not the same for all of us. For me it was just the beginning of this long journey through the grief and pain......................

Two books of condolence had been opened in the church, and someone had put some toy frogs on Chris's table, he loved frogs! On Matt's someone had put a cricket ball.
It was like a rollercaster which never stopped for me, and looking back even now, I simply do not know how we got through..........when a few weeks down the line the grief would hit us like red hot irons entering flesh, searing, searing pain., wave after wave afer wave, sobbing, despairing, crying till I could cry no more with the exhaustion.
The enormity of the loss like a Grand Canyon.......................

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