The sun shone brightly and the skies were blue, it was cold but one of those beautiful wintry days.
All I could see in front of me was a swarm of black and all I could hear were footsteps and people muttering: “What a shame, he was such a great man”.
My husband’s hand gripped mine tightly as we walked in a line to the church. We were saying goodbye to a great man, a father, a husband and my husband’s best friend.
It was the day Chris had been dreading, in the car earlier that morning he’d told me if he could run away he would. I knew it had hit him really hard and it’s strange how men are different to women when it comes to grieving.
Chris keeps telling me he wants to cry but it’s as if it isn’t real and he doesn’t believe that it’s actually happened.
Chris and Carlton go back more than 30 years when they first met in radio. Carlton had been a great mentor and friend to Chris and they had travelled the world together going on many adventures in their younger days. They have both been divorced and re married and had supported one another through those emotional times.
Carlton was just 53. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year and after a brave fight he sadly passed just over a week ago. He leaves behind his beautiful wife Jo, his two daughters and his three stepsons.
My husband had written a eulogy and as he stood in front of a packed church in his smart suit with his specs on, I felt so thankful that I had him in my life.
As he talked a beautiful butterfly appeared and sat on his head, minutes later it had disappeared. Afterwards everyone commented on that butterfly saying, “that was Carlton, letting you know he’s still here”.
Chris’s words were beautiful, receiving a round of applause from everyone. I couldn’t have been prouder of how he spoke, knowing his heart was breaking, knowing how sad he was but still he came across so strong.
A little later as we all stood and watched the coffin be lowered into the ground, my stomach turned in knots. I have never and will never get my head around death – how can we be here one moment and gone the next? Why are good people taken from us too soon? As the vicar said in church “There aren’t always answers to some questions”.
The whole day made me think about love and time – it’s precious and we need to cherish every single moment. Sometimes what we think matters like jobs, status, the latest fashion, and social media really doesn’t matter at all.
It’s love and friendship that counts, building special memories with special people and that is something Carlton did lots of. He was loved by so many different kinds of people and he always made people feel special. Everyone spoke of how he never made anything about him; it was always about others – what a rare and wonderful quality to possess.
At the wake I watched Chris glow as he talked and laughed with all his old colleagues.They shared stories about their times with Carlton and the special memories they had created with him. I remember thinking how everyone would want to be spoken of like that once they leave this world - with such a high regard. I couldn’t imagine life without my Chris; he is the love of my life, my rock and my best friend.
I watched my nana Jean fight through life without the love of her life. My granddad died when in his early 60s and despite many offers she refuses to date anyone else. Now at the age of 84, she still misses him every day and she can’t speak of him without crying.
My heart breaks for Carlton’s wife Jo – I can’t stop thinking about how someone comes to terms with losing their great love, not seeing them anymore, not hearing their voice. We all take our loved ones for granted, it’s human nature but there’s nothing like a funeral to make a person realise that none of us are here forever.
I hope you are cherishing your loved ones - friends and family, over this special time of year and creating lots of special memories.
I’ll end on the final piece from my husband’s reading. It’s a quote from Baz Lurhmann: “Understand that friends come and go but a precious few who you should hold onto”.
Emergency service heroes
I’ve been very lucky this Christmas, being able to shut myself away from work and spend it with my family.
There are many people out there who aren’t so fortunate and I think it’s so easy to forget them. For a lot of people this time of year is no different to any other.
Our NHS staff do a wonderful job working in stretched conditions.
Our emergency services - police, fire service and of course our ambulance services. They are all people who risk their lives all year round.
One of my listeners Jen – who is a regular on the breakfast show – has spoken to me about this recently. Her hubby is a fireman and she and their three children are used to him not being at home over Christmas and New Year.
These people are heroes, and when we look at what’s wrong with the world we should remember we are lucky to have people like this.
If you fall into this category I salute you and your family.
I wish you a very happy and safe New Year and hope you manage to get some precious time with your loved ones.
I’m a big believer in reinvention
It’s that time of year when we take a long hard look at ourselves and attempt to work out what we want to change.
Usually at the top of most people’s list is to lose weight and become teetotal.
Some moan that new year resolutions don’t work mainly because we put so much pressure on ourselves our good intentions crumble.
I however believe good intentions to change and make ourselves (inside or out) better is a positive thing.
If we didn’t change, we wouldn’t progress or get better at anything.
You stand still if you don’t at least try to embrace change and go with it.
I’m a big believer in reinvention, especially in my business – radio.
I have my new year resolutions already decided and yes of course one includes shifting the winter stone, which is currently attached to my thighs and hips!
My others are concerned with my self and my wellbeing. I’m fully aware I need to look after myself better on an emotional and mental level.
There’s a list if I’m honest but conquering them all in a year might be a bit too much even for me. If you are planning on embracing a new year with a new you then good luck from me – you can do it. For those of you hate the whole idea of resolutions I urge you to reconsider, we can all change something or attempt to make something better in the world.