We've just received some very sad news. Ant's Uncle Paul died this evening, after a long battle with cancer. Although it wasn't sudden, in that we'd known it was inevitable eventually, in the end it was a sharp decline which has come as something of a shock. Paul and Auntie Judith were a devoted couple, full of a passion for life and a sense of adventure, even when faced with the trials and traumas of Paul's ongoing cancer treatment and other problems such as his increasing loss of sight (unrelated to the cancer, but untreatable because of it).
I am so glad that we made the decision to spend last Christmas up north, which included a big Miller/Shingler family gathering in Ambleside on boxing day, hosted by Paul and Judith. It was an altogether uplifting and life-affirming occaision, punctuated by music, games, laughter, affection and a prevailing sense of fun. Memories like this give one something happy to hold onto in the grave, cruel wasteland that is grieving.
I shan't indulge in a long, cliched rant about the nature of death and grief, although it's tempting. There is nothing I can say to make it seem any better or worse than it is. It is a horrible, tragic and painful thing and unlike other life experiences, it doesn't get any easier the more it happens. Quite the reverse in fact.