Today, six months to the day that my beloved brother died, his ashes were laid to rest.
The reason for the delay ? A significant part was the fact that we had to apply for and receive the official Government exhumation licence to move my father's cremated remains, in order that he and my brother may now lie together in a family grave, as my brother requested the week before he died.
I arranged everything, and was anxious that things be done respectfully, and as my brother would have wanted. It went well, and they are both now in their final resting place till the Last Trump.
Although it rained last night and this morning, the sun was shining fitfully, the wind had dropped considerably; the weather was good - and reasonably mild - for the twenty minutes or so we were at the cemetery. For the first time in three months, my mother was able to leave her house, albeit in a wheelchair to the car and in a wheelchair to the graveside, and warmly wrapped in a rug, as she feels the cold dreadfully these days.
We could hear some distant sounds of traffic, but the cemetery lies right on the outskirts of the town, surrounded by farmland and fields, so the major source of noise was entirely natural - scores of birds singing their hearts out, and only the occasional guttural "Caw" from some passing crows interrupting as the minister read prayers, including the Kontakion for the Dead - “and weeping o’er the grave, we make our song. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.” as I held my mother's hand.
My brother's three dearest childhood friends, who supported him and Mum and I all the way through his return home to Wales and through his final, tragic illness, were able to take time off from their places of work to be with our immediate family for this final loving act, for which I was profoundly grateful.
It was really rather surreal; to stand at the edge of the grave, watching my brother and father being laid to rest, and knowing that in due course, I too would be laid to rest in that same grave plot, was a remarkable experience.
How many people have seen their grave being opened, I wonder ?