Ten years ago today we said goodbye but today it feels like just yesterday.
The wind blows with a 'swshhhh' sound through the trees and the sky is ashen grey like its about to
rain but its sheltered where I sit so I don't feel the chill carried by the wind. I can hear the cars on the
nearby road but here in the cemetery, all is quiet, with a serene atmosphere of history and age. The
same sort of feeling I get when I sit by a remote woodland pond with my dog.
I stare at the white headstone that bears your name for a while before looking around me at the
different shades of colour and layers of moss that cover some of the ancient and not so ancient
I don't know what it is about cemeteries that I like exactly, I find something fascinating there in
amongst the graves, but this particular place leaves me cold and lonely.
Living surrounded by some of the South Easts finest woodland and countryside I often walk for miles
and miles with my dog, often planning my walks on a map beforehand and I try to walk in new places
as often as I can. More often than not if there is a little village church or two en route I will almost
always pay a visit and wander around the graveyard for a while.
I like to look at the inscriptions on the headstones and I try to imagine what these people looked like. I
found one recently in a saxon church near Ford village for a gentleman named Alfred Hughs that was
dated 1899 to 2001. This man was 102 and lived through three centuries. It blows me away thinking
about that. The changes he must have seen in the world are beyond comprehension and of course so is
the horror of having to fight through two world wars… I imagine he was a gentle man. Serving in two
world wars would make the hardest man humble.
Call me odd, or dark, but I find there something calming and meditative in a graveyard. The invisible
peaceful presence of generations of centuries past inviting me in to meditate with them. Maybe it's the
fact that the one thing that I have in common with each and every one of these people beneath the
ground around me is that one day I will be lined up with them. It's a great way to centre myself and
wash away all the troubles of life for a few minutes. Even my black dog is left at the gates and cant
come in here.
I almost always leave a graveyard feeling like Ive had a secret glimpse into the past, maybe met the
memory of someone I never met when they were alive and peeped into their past.
I wonder when strangers look at your headstone if they try and imagine you. If they look at the dates
engraved with such care and think: "Too soon…" I wonder if they connect with you at all…
I no longer feel a connection to you here through this heart shaped slab of white marble. It just brings
memories of sadness and the unshakable feeling that you took part of me with you.
There was a time when sitting here bought me comfort, but that has now long gone.
It brings back memories of the anniversary night in 2006 when I got drunk and decided that I needed
to be at your grave at the exact time you left, so I got public transport to the area and walked to the
cemetery, stocking up on another bottle of schnapps on the way. I was wet and muddy by the time I
got there due to the number of times Id fallen over and somehow I found myself inside the cemetery
having negotiated the six foot stone wall and the spiked railing without disembowelling myself I
ended up almost in a coma when the deadline at 12 minutes past one in the morning came and went,
laying on the wet grass next to the headstone, in the rain... When I woke up it was dawn, I was cold,
wet, shivering, feeling very sick.
So it's time to leave this place again until next year and the warmth of the car washes over me making
me realise just how cold it is outside. The journey home vanishes from my consciousness. I don't
remember it at all. Im just fixed on trying to remember things that don't make me melancholy.
Your smile, your big brown eyes, that stupid hat you used to wear when it was cold, the good times we
had before you got ill.
And so here we are. Just ten hours away from being ten years ago to the minute. Twelve minutes past
one in the morning, 23 November 2004. I still remember sitting in that room in the hospice holding
your hand like it was yesterday.
I remember talking to you for a while when you left before I called for the nurse.
I remember the journey home on my motorbike. It was cold, foggy, wet and dark and I was the only
person on the roads all the way home and it was the first time Id been home for months. It was like the
world was crying.
I remember I wrote a poem before I got blind drunk.
I remember your funeral and then when I got home drinking until I was not aware of the events of the
I dont remember systematically smashing my house up room by room, but I remember waking up to
the carnage the following afternoon…
Forgive me for not visiting your grave much. It brings be to a dark place and you are not there. You are
I wonder what we would be doing now. I wonder where we would be. I still miss you and I have a huge
void in my life that I've never been able to fill.
As I write, I've already finished the best part of a bottle of spirits, and I'm starting to feel comfortably
numb while I'm eyeing up the other bottle wondering if I should put it in the fridge or just have it as it
is. I can sense the black dog is stalking me this day and my guard is dropping in direct proportions to
the amount of alcohol I consume and if I had a choice I would not be alone tonight.
It's going to be a long night.
Ten years… Where the fuck did that go…