09 Apr A Tribute to Life
Climbing the hill to the top where the grand Duke sits on his stone horse and looks out over this beautiful city the note caught my eye. A card lying on the ground, its curled corners waving at me in the lush green grass. I lifted it and turned it over to read ‘Lily Rose, you are forever in our thoughts and hearts. Always xxx’ and glanced up to see a bunch of flowers tied to the branch of a tree. I placed the card with the flowers and stepped away feeling sad, it was impossible to tell if the ink was stained by rain or a sea of tears.
The park is awash with emotions, declarations of love, pride, heartache, affection. Benches with unusual engravings ‘In loving memory of Harry, a nosey git who loved to sit here and watch the world go by’ or on plaques under trees for ‘My One True Love’.
These public declarations are part of the joy of park life. My imagination goes into overdrive as I wonder who these people were. I sit on the benches and create fictitious and heroic stories of their lives. I think about Lily Rose and Harry’s relationship with the person who chose the words for the plaque. I wonder in life if they knew how loved they were?
Some people don’t ever say the L word. There are whole generations of families and friends who never say ‘I love you.’ Instead they buy presents, they cook favourite dinners, or if they’re Scottish it’s likely that they say goodbye with the words ‘take care’….. then stand in the rain on the doorstep waving until the visitors car disappears into the night.
Maybe for them the words aren’t needed? Maybe the point is it’s a knowing thing. A feeling. A mutual understanding. It’s personal, it’s up to you if you keep your emotions deep inside or share them out loud, as long as the people that matter know how important they are to you. Are you confident they know?
It’s not all about love, sometimes the sentiment is closer to like or admire or respect. People who share our lives, who plant ideas in our heads, who encourage us to dare to be, who challenge our thinking, who inspire us or who simply make us laugh. How often do we actually tell them how much we value their time, contribution, words and support?
Once someone has gone, departed this life, you can buy a bench, a plaque, a tree if it brings you comfort, if it helps you grieve. I understand that completely. But surely it’s worth opening your heart and telling people how much they mean to you when you can still see the smile on their face and hear the joy in their voice? Do it whilst you can still put your arms around them and squeeze tight.
Tribute acts can be good, but they’re a poor substitute for the real deal.