Gone, but never forgotten

Funeral flowers

Funeral flowers

Monday was the day of Roger’s funeral and despite worrying about how it would go, what I would say, whether I would be able to speak (or even stand), it went really well and I might even go as far to say it was a day of celebration, thanksgiving and love.

I woke up feeling sick and so nervous, but decided I just had to accept that time would pass regardless, the day was going to happen, and I just had to go with it. By the time the funeral car arrived to pick us up for the crematorium, I was clutching my rescue remedy and my son and trying to take deep breaths and stay calm. Having a six-year-old in the car was probably the best way to get through it, as his excitement at riding in a ‘limo’ as he put it kept him talking all the way to the chapel. A real blessing for me and Roger’s mum, brother, sister and my sister-in-law who were I’m sure all trying to hold back the tears.

I was overwhelmed by the messages of support from all our friends and family beforehand – I must have received about 200 cards and countless text messages, emails, tweets and all the rest since the day Roger passed away. Knowing so many people would be there on the day was at once frightening and supportive, and I just kept reminding myself that everyone was there because they loved my husband, and were grateful for the chance to say goodbye.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I decided I was going to write something to be read out at the church service but a few days before, I thought it would be a much more special tribute if I could read it myself. Taking advice from others who had read at funerals – including a dear colleague Angela who had the courage to speak at her husband’s service last year – I thought I would just go for it, focus on the back, and if I cried, I cried. One of our friends Chris told me that if I did cry, it was ok, everyone would be with me and I should just pause, breathe, and move on. So that’s what I did.

Sam's poems for his dad's funeral

So with several breaks, and while holding our gorgeous but extremely clingy daughter, here is what I said…

“A few days before Roger passed away, he decided he’d like to write something to be read out at his funeral. Sadly, he ran out of time, so I’ll never know what he planned to tell us.

I do know though, that he would have been so humbled to see so many of you here today.

Many times as I tried to write this, I’ve thought about what Rog would say to me if I asked for his advice.

When you’re used to having someone there with you, someone who always knows the right thing to do or say, you feel pretty lost when suddenly they’re not there anymore.

I’m sure most of you know that we met through work, and for years before we got together I was used to him subbing my stories, and telling me how I could make them better.

When I started blogging, he always read my posts before I published them, but I was amazed when he not once told me to change anything I had written, or how I had written it.

He would just smile and say yeah, that’s really good, I love it and you should definitely press publish.

I learnt a lot from him in work – mainly that he hated drop intros, stories about public buildings, that he never turned down a cup of tea – and that his face could go really red if you made him angry on the phone!

I learnt a lot from him in life, too, and without sounding trite, in Roger I found a best friend, a soul mate and realised what it meant to truly be in love.

Kind, caring and clever, he had far more patience than me and was never a worrier. He didn’t sweat the small stuff and always gave me a reality check if I was stressing over life’s minor details. As parents, he was always the more relaxed one and probably much softer than I am.

He hated arguing, and on the rare occasions when we did fall out, he was always the one to make it up, making me laugh so I couldn’t be cross at him anymore and then jokingly demanding I apologise. He was usually right.

His strength throughout the past few years has been amazing. He went through so much, yet hardly ever complained. When I cried, he wiped away my tears, and when I felt I couldn’t go on, he told me that I could. When his pain was almost too much to bear, he found the strength to turn and hug me.

Roger brought out the best in me, and as my sister Katie once put it, he brought out the Jules in Jules. He then said to me that I brought out the Rog in Rog.

He was so happy when he became a dad, having Sam was such an amazing achievement for him and a magical time for us all.

They were so close, and I know it hurt Rog so much that his illness meant he was denied spending precious time with his children.

Having our daughter completed our family, and without her in our lives I think we would have all struggled to get through the past few years.

People say that when something like this happens, it really makes you appreciate your loved ones more and not take them for granted. Well I have to say, and this is a great blessing to me, that we never took one another for granted, and not a day went by when we didn’t tell each other how much we loved one another.

We really did appreciate how alike we were in so many ways, and felt honoured to have found one another and formed such a special bond.

What we had – even though it was for such a relatively short time – many people are never lucky enough to find, and we drew strength from that in the final months of his life.

Something that will stay with me is when he said we’d both hoped we would stay together for the rest of our lives, and he was the lucky one as he had that. He had me at the end of his life, but we both knew I had to go on without him.

The fact that we had each other was worth so much and I hope I can do him justice now by bringing up our children in a way which would make him proud.

We’ve all been missing Rog so much, and Sam for one is missing his big hugs, tickles, and bedtime chats. Florence still looks for him when she comes in the door and every time she sees a newspaper says it’s ‘daddy’s paper’. (I have to say I haven’t bought a Daily Mail now for a couple of weeks!)

I know we will find the strength to remember the good times and carry him with us throughout our lives. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.”

After I spoke, it was our son’s turn to speak, and as he’d written a poem and prayer a few days after his dad died he wanted to read it out in church. I stood with him and helped him by reading the poem – with a last minute change at the end.

He wrote: “His heart is red, his eyes are blue, and that is why we love you.”

However, he decided seconds before that he wanted me to read “that is why we love dad” at the end instead, making it comically non-rhyming.

His prayer, which he had written should be preceded by a five minute silence (it wasn’t!), read: “Dear God, please send this message to dad. We promise not to cry because we love you.”

Not a dry eye in the house.

Following this, a very close friend of Roger’s and colleague of ours, Simon, delivered an incredibly poignant and funny eulogy, more of which I will bring you in another post.

For now, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to Roger’s funeral, who sent their support, and who was thinking of our family that day.

I feel such a great comfort from experiencing so much love and friendship, and I know it will help me in my darker moments. As Simon said at the end of his speech, I should wear my memories of that day as a suit of armour, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

x Julia

PS – Donations made to Wirral St John’s Hospice in Roger’s name have reached more than £1,300 and that is on the Just Giving site alone – so thank you so much for such an incredible effort which will help so many in future.

Flower basket for Roger

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  • Reply
    Kim Carberry
    August 12, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Sending love and hugs….I am so sorry you and your family have had to go through this!
    Beautifully words….
    Kim Carberry recently posted…We are wicked parents….hehehe #wickedwednesdaysMy Profile

  • Reply
    Leigh - Headspace Perspective
    August 12, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Absolutely beautiful, Julia. Your love for Roger pours out of every single word, and I can feel the emotion. The advice you were given, to wear your memories of that day like a suit of armour, is lovely. That will never ever be enough, but to know how loved and respected Roger will always be and that he will never be forgotten will I hope be a tiny comfort. Sam’s tribute to his dad is heartbreakingly poignant. Much love to you as ever xxxx
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted…EastEnders: Please Don’t Reach for the TV Remote When the Stillbirth Storyline is AiredMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rachel @ tenminutesspare
    August 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Just beautiful. What an incredible amount to have raised for the hospice, but an achievement equally matched by your courage in speaking your powerful words at his funeral. I cannot imagine all that you are going through but through all the sadness it’s lovely to also read of all the love, support and advice you’ve received to help get you through. Lots of love x

  • Reply
    August 12, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Oh Julia, It sounds like a beautiful celebration. I am in awe of you and so touched by the love in every word you write. I am thinking of you all. So much love xxx
    Kiran recently posted…Our Bay Windows – Looking in to our New HomeMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 12, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    My heart goes out to you Julia.Such beautiful words you wrote about your precious husband who would of been watching over you all..As you said chick Gone but never Forgotten Lots of Love x

  • Reply
    Caro | The Twinkles Mama
    August 12, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Aaah lovely girl – I was thinking about you all day. Felt like cheering when the girls says you’d read your words. So brave of you. You’re strong and amazing and we’re all so very proud. The way you’ve handled everything over the last few months is something to be proud of. Sam and Flo are so lucky to have such an incredible mama. Love you lots xxxxxx

    Caro |
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  • Reply
    Gemma Murphy
    August 12, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    You are such an incredibly brave Lady, such beautiful words. Sending you all lots of love xx
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  • Reply
    Lisa (mummascribbles)
    August 12, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Biggest lump in my throat and struggling to hold back the tears. This is such a beautiful post. You should be so proud of yourself, as Rog would be. You are such an incredible lady Julia and those kiddies are so lucky to have such a wonderful mama. Huge hugs to Sam – I couldn’t even read anything at my dad’s funeral and I was 29. What a brave boy you have there. Sending lots of love as always.
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  • Reply
    August 12, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Well done lovely lady, I don’t think Roger could have asked for more perfect words, well and truly from the heart and so so full of love. What a brilliant loving man and the little legacies that he has left behind will go on with all his charecterisics and love in them as they grow up. Am sending you lots of love and strength xx

  • Reply
    August 12, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful words, Julia. Hold on to the memories of the day not just as a suit of armour, but as a comfort blanket when that is what you need instead.
    Tim recently posted…10 things you didn’t know about meMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rosie @ Little Fish
    August 12, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Such a touching and beautifully written post. I just came across this on twitter and your words made me feel so deeply sad for you. I am so sorry for your loss. Roger sounds like he was an amazing man and I know you will all treasure his memory. Words seem so useless right now, but I just wanted to send some love your way. x
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  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    August 13, 2015 at 4:04 am

    What you wrote was beautiful and touching beyond words that I can express to you. Sam is so wonderful, I know he must be a joy for you in such a sad time and I pray your children keep finding smiles in their hearts everyday.
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Why I have to have it!My Profile

  • Reply
    August 13, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Julia, that was beautiful. Roger would have been so proud of you all. XX

  • Reply
    Jemma Taylor-Smith
    August 13, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Wow! What beautiful words. I don’t know you or your family but I have no doubt that Roger would be so proud of you all. What an amazing and talented lady you are. Thank you for sharing on here. Thinking of you all. Jemma x
    Jemma Taylor-Smith recently posted…GoodbyesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome
    August 13, 2015 at 8:53 am

    The day must have been one you’d been dreading but it really was the most amazing celebration of Roger. Although it was sad, I think everyone was crying along with you, I was totally awed by everything people said about Rog and the love that was in the room for you, Sam and Flo. You were just amazing reading out your beautiful words, I’m so glad you had the strength to do it as they seemed right coming from you. I’m glad the day holds special memories for you, you have so much love and support and that is a precious thing xxxx
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  • Reply
    Kat | Beau Twins
    August 13, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Julia, I read this last night and I wanted to say how proud I am to call you my friend. You are one in a zillion, you really are. Your relationship with Rog was beyond special and I am heartbroken for you he was taken away from you so soon. Life is to be celebrated and I am so pleased Rog got the send of he deserved. Always thinking of you lovely and I am always here. Xxxx
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  • Reply
    Mummy Tries
    August 13, 2015 at 10:02 am

    and I bet there wasn’t a dry eye in the whole church. love & hugs hon, sending positivity and strength your way xxxxxx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…Some Exciting NewsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Hannah Budding Smiles
    August 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Oh Julia what beautiful words from both you and Sam. I love your friend’s advice too, may that armour keep you strong xx
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  • Reply
    August 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Not a dry eye reading your blog either Julia, feeling all your raw emotion you put into every word. Amazingly strong to be able to speak let alone read that out. Beautiful words and sounds like you found true love that will live on thro the love for your children. He’d be proud. Thinkingof you all xxx
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  • Reply
    Potty Mouthed Mummy
    August 13, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Just perfect Julia, you did him proud. So moving and not a dry eye this side either xx
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  • Reply
    August 13, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Oh Julia, that is such a beautiful speech and I am so proud of you for reading it out yourself. I knew you could do it.

    Sam’s poem did make me smile and I love that he changed the words at the last minute. He’s such a character!

    Sending lots of love xxx
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  • Reply
    Ting at My Travel Monkey
    August 14, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Oh, Julia. Well done for writing and reading such a beautiful tribute, you definitely did him proud. I’ve been wanting to comment on several of your posts these last few weeks, but never felt I had the words… thinking of you all xx
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  • Reply
    Katie / Pouting In Heels
    August 15, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Oh Julia, another powerful, brave and beautiful post. Your love for each other and your strength brought tears to my eyes. You definitely did Rog, your relationship and family, proud.

    I cannot imagine how difficult life must be for you right now but I think the suit of armour analogy is perfect. Wear it with with pride my love, for you are one of life’s warriors. Thinking of you all and sending love and strength. xxx
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  • Reply
    Setting balloons free for daddy - Rainbeaubelle
    August 16, 2015 at 7:34 am

    […] I had been dreading the day of my husband’s funeral, by the end of the day I felt we had really made the day as good as it possibly could be, a real […]

  • Reply
    Megan - truly madly kids
    August 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I knew you’d find the right words, and so delighted you could read them, as no one else but you would have done them justice. Sam got it just right too: You are clearly all a great team. Big love, Mrs B xxx
    Megan – truly madly kids recently posted…Marshmallow FlingingMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 18, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    A beautiful tribute Julia, to a very lovely man. Such a hard day to get through, but hopefully you were also uplifted by all the love in the room. My thoughts were with you and your family on that day. xx

  • Reply
    Katie @mummydaddyme
    August 22, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to stop by Julia, but know you haven’t been far from my thoughts. What you wrote for Roger was just beautiful and I am so glad that the day was a celebration of love as much as it could be. I cant begin to understand what you are going through, not even in the slightest, but the one thing that shines through is your love for your family and just quite how strong you are. Sending all my love. Xx
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  • Reply
    August 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    No dry eyes here either Julia, both you and Sam did so well. Im glad it was a day of celebration for you all. Just the biggest hugs. xxxx
    Katy recently posted…HappyDays #45My Profile

  • Reply
    Filey, fresh air and friends - Rainbeaubelle
    August 24, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    […] totally washed out with all my emotions from my husband’s illness, his passing and then the funeral. Added to that the stress of all the paperwork I’m having to wade through and general lack of […]

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    Me and Mine - A Portrait for August - Rainbeaubelle
    August 31, 2015 at 11:18 am

    […] sadly it’s true. August has been a month of sadness, tears, adjustments and on the day of the funeral, I guess a little bit of celebration. It was a day I was dreading but by the end of it I felt […]

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    Hospice care and giving back - Rainbeaubelle
    October 30, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    […] was because of all that that we wanted to give something back. Roger had started planning his funeral and decided to ask people to donate to the hospice rather than send flowers when time came. I set […]

  • Reply
    Daisy Russel
    October 26, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Amazingly beautiful! Your relationship and life experience will Roger are surely unforgettable and precious.

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