As you can all appreciate, his has been another difficult piece to write, so mainly pictures this week, not words.
Two years ago today we officially said goodbye to Russell and celebrated the time we were fortunate enough to have spent with him.The day had to be perfect, and just like this morning, two years later, the sun shone down on him and us. The house was full of friends and family all day; everyone making sure that he would get the best send off possible.
Late afternoon, and Russell came back home for the last time; his pale oak coffin decorated with red ribbons and the messages written by his friends – I wish now that I’d taken a photograph, but we still have those messages to remind us of how much he was loved. He was carried into the chapel by six of his close friends; other friends spoke about times spent with him; Ben had put together an amazing tribute of photographs set to one of his favourite pieces of music. And then suddenly it was all over, he was gone and all we had were the memories. I was so proud of Sarajane that day for standing up there and saying goodbye to her brother in such an eloquent way. That took real courage; he would have laughed at what she said about him – maybe he did.
Inevitably, we ended up at the Full Moon where his friends had organised a Johnny Cash tribute band to play for him (the band refused to accept any payment for this so we all donated money to Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance – a very worthy charity).Looking back, the day seemed to rush by in a blur, and suddenly we were starting the rest of our lives without Russell.
Afterwards, there were people who said that once the funeral was over it was time to get back to normal, but there was no normal any more. (I am sure they were only trying to be helpful, and they could not possibly understand how we felt). A large part of what had made our lives “normal” was no longer with us. As the weeks and months have slipped past, we have started to find a different normal. A normal that still includes Russell, he’s still around us in everything we do and everywhere we go. He is the reason that so many of his friends have raised money for charity, he is the reason that we are now in touch with many people around the world who we have never actually met, he is the reason SJ has two very large pub signs in her garage (yes, Luke one of them is for you!).
So, thank you to everyone who made 10th July 2013 so memorable, and thank you Russell for giving us 28 years of fun and laughter and a lifetime of memories.