How do you go about planning the funeral of a 24 year old fit and healthy man? How do you know what they would have wanted, when this subject was never a talking point?
When you know someone as well as I knew Jason, it’s not a hard job.
Jason was always an incredibly happy person, so his funeral needed to reflect that. The children were the biggest part of his life, so they needed to be involved in making decisions, and most importantly, he achieved so much in his short life, we needed to celebrate that!
As Toby already knew Daddy was leaving in a spaceship, there was no need to confuse matters by having him at the funeral, so he only joined us for the wake, or, as he called it, ‘Daddy’s Party’. I asked him what he wanted at Daddy’s party, and his list was very specific. He wanted lots of cake, jelly, balloons, party flags (bunting), music and ‘one of those things that you hit with a stick and sweeties fall out’ – otherwise known so a piñata. I decided to avoid the piñata, even though i COULD have got a coffin shaped one, I felt it was overstepping the line just a little too far. The bunting and jelly were also vetoed for logistical reasons, but the rest seemed perfect for a man like my Husband, so full of fun and happiness, just like a children’s party!
We got 2 bunches of helium balloons, each bunch consisting of 6 balloons, red, yellow, orange, green, blue and purple. There were over 100 cupcakes of different colours, and different sponge flavours. I created a playlist of all of Jason and the boy’s favourite songs, and we also ordered hot pot and pies from one of Jason’s favourite places. It was as close to a perfect funeral after party as you can get! I had a small group of amazing friends who set it all up for me, ready for after the service, and who made sure everything ran smoothly on the day. I couldn’t have got through any of the last 6 months without them, particularly that day.
The flowers I chose were colourful, as was my Husband. I chose Gerberas, which are my favourites, and were always the flowers Jason would buy for me. I got the word ‘Daddy’ for the boys, and reluctantly settled on ‘Husband’ for me. It seemed so un-heartfelt. So clinical. I would have much preferred one of my nicknames for him, like Hasimodo (Haslem and Quasimodo) or Husbender. I was talked out of it, but I really wish I had stuck to my guns on that one. The flowers turned out beautifully, and after the service, I kept them outside of my house for a couple of weeks. The postman and Dominos delivery drivers got a horrible shock when they saw the funeral flowers. I thought it was funny seeing how nervous they got when they got to the door!
Deciding what to wear for the day wasn’t difficult. We were due to go to a family wedding the weekend after he died, and he had helped me choose the dress for it. We asked all guests to avoid black, and wear bright colours, which most were happy to join in with, but I still stood out, with my bright flowery dress with petticoat, red cardigan and rainbow converse. My tits looked great. Jason would have approved!
I decided on cremation for Jason, for two reasons. The first being that I couldn’t bare the thought of his body needing to go through any more. It needed to be the end of the changes, and for there to be finality. Secondly, there were still so many family adventures for Jason to join us on. As ashes, a little bit of him could come everywhere we went. There was no single place that Jason loved more than others, as he wasn’t materialistic, so wherever his family was, that is where he wanted to be. He can be everywhere we have happy memories now!
September 16th was funeral day. All plans were in place, I visited Jason for the final time, and I felt ready to let go.
As the hearse pulled up outside my house, I felt a sense of Jason being back where he belonged, home, for the first time since he had left for work the morning of his death. I whispered that I was sorry I couldn’t invite him in for a brew, we had a strict schedule to stick to. His flowers looked beautiful.
I travelled in a funeral car the half a mile to the church, feeling incredibly lazy as it would have only taken a few minutes to walk! The sheer amount of people outside the church was overwhelming. They filled the car park and took up lots of the pavement. Everyone looked so sad.
His coffin was carried by six men that I had chosen, and deemed important enough to have the honour of carrying my Husband. My team of funeral helpers handed out orders of service and memorial cards.
As he was carried down the aisle, a song that Toby had chosen was played. He asked for ‘You Are My Sunshine’, not because of the lyrical meaning, but because Daddy and him used to sing it often before bed, and change the words to something silly, so it made him laugh! It fit perfectly, and in my head all I could hear was them two giggling singing ‘You are my Bumshine’.
The hymns were happy and made me smile in parts, due to the fact that when we went to church, we would often be a bit silly when singing. One of my favourite memories was when Jason was stood between a friend’s partner and I, and we were singing so loud and intentionally out of tune, that Jason couldn’t hold the laughter in! ‘Bind us together’ was often sung by me after this, just to make him laugh!
I read my Eulogy, and loved looking round to see how many people filled the church. There weren’t enough seats for everyone, so there were people filling the back and aisles too! So many people were crying. But not me. They all had this one day to say Goodbye, but I had my entire life to feel it, every single day. The absence of a permanent figure isn’t something that you can mourn in one day. The only time I cried, was when I had seen him that morning. I felt heartless, but I needed to do him proud and make the day perfect.
On the way out of the church, our wedding song was played. It was played again later, so I will get to that one!
We left the church and headed to the crematorium. We had asked that only close friends and family came to the crematorium, but it seemed that more people considered themselves close than he or I would have done. People were there that had never even met me or our children, and have not been in contact since. Obviously the definition of close differs between people, so we squashed in as best we could.
On the way in, the song I chose seemed to fit perfectly. Some of the lyrics are “Whatever they say, your soul is unbreakable”. Perfect! The room was very echoey, and the music was loud. Jason loved having music on loud so this felt phenomenal to experience. I felt such presence of the song, an eerie yet beautiful piece of music that has a massive place in my heart.
There was a short service, which ended in our wedding song being played again. I wanted it to be the last song he ever heard. The first song of our marriage, and the last song we listened to together. It echoed round the room and filled me we complete love for this man, just as it had when I walked down the aisle to it.
During the song I took a sneaky photo. The last time I ever was in the same place as Jason, and I wanted to document it. Thankfully there was no accidental flash or loud camera noise, although that would have given me cause to giggle!
Once the song finished, people walked up to his coffin and awkwardly touched it and looked at it. Me being the person I am, spent the time pondering the weird traditions that are done at these types of events, but still, I let them get on with it! I stood to one side, the conveyor belt of people standing next to the coffin for a few seconds, then coming to me for one of my most favourite past times, hugging! I wasn’t sure what to say as they lined up to tell me they were sorry. Most of them strangers, I just thanked them for coming, as though I had held a cocktail party for work colleagues. They left, slowly, and i went to stand next to the coffin awkwardly for a little while. I was in the middle of saying my ‘see you laters’ to the love of my life when the priest came back in. He lent on the other side of the coffin, elbows on top, hands under his chin. I was expecting wise words, and was met with “So, the lady with the dark hair. What’s her name?”. He had come for a chat about my friends, and I couldn’t help but feel at ease. No more standing on ceremony, after all, life goes on.
The rest of the day went perfectly. The hot pot was lovely, the cakes were delicious, and my children had a great time, wearing their bright red jeans and superman t-shirts and capes.
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart, Hasimodo!
Love you Jason xxxxx