The mood lightened a little as we gathered in a nearby pub after the interment to swap stories and reminisce, catch up with each other's news and admire the amazing cake made by Andrew's daughter Susie - a model of a skip, adorned with Andrew's name and overflowing with bits and pieces that would have brought out the magpie instinct in Andrew, had he been there in person to see it. But the brilliantly apt work of art was not to last long - it was carved up and served alongside other cakes and tea (and prosecco for those not driving) back at the house, where close friends lingered till late, still numbed by the unexpected loss of our contemporary.
I said in an earlier blog that given Steve's diagnosis, I thought I would be the first to be widowed in our circle of friends and that Andrew would be there at Steve's funeral. We are still finding it difficult to come to terms with the events of the last fortnight. Our hearts go out to Jan his wife, Susie and Charlie his children, Katie his sister and Edna, his amazing 92 year old mum. You were all so brave and so dignified. I only hope that I can follow your example when I stand in your shoes.
Andrew's unexpected and untimely death reinforces the unpredictability and fragility of life. All we can hope to do is leave the world a better place when we're gone and make the most of life while we can. The first bit is not easy, but we do our best to make our small contribution. We are getting better at the second bit - living life to the full. We've just arranged another first time experience for us this weekend. Drop back next week if you want to find out what we've been up to!
In the meantime, if you are in or close to Oxford tomorrow evening, please join us at the private view of the horti-CULTURE exhibition at the 03 Gallery, Oxford Castle!