So many memories poured out yesterday, as the village turned up in force to honour and remember Nigel Geoffrey Baynes. He seemed to have touched everyone, in one way or another, and it felt like a sacred duty to be there, in one way or another ourselves, to say goodbye, to say thanks for brightening our lives.
With every chuckle, snort and chortle, and there were many as the memories were re-examined, the ragged gasp at the back of our throats kept reminding us that this life has been snuffed out far too soon, that we have lost a vibrant part of the fabric of the community.
How can the sun still rise, in the face of such a loss? How can the landscape ever renew? And yet, to sit looking at the vast expanse of snow cover, as the sun rises over the high fellside, is a realisation that with or without us, life goes on, is constantly replaced by the following day’s experiences.
That each moment is precious, a glinting diamond of joy, and we must somehow endeavour to take comfort in the passage of time. Although every funeral we attend is a tangible harbinger of our impending mortality, each time of quiet reflection is also a reminder that we must appreciate joy when it’s with us.
At one of the recent Lions Club meetings, I was feeling in a decidedly grumpy mood, anti-social, somewhat bitter and twisted, and uncomfortable to boot with an injured hamstring. Nigel looked at me and asked, as pointed as ever, ‘Where’s the happy Larry gone? Can’t he come back?’ I felt abashed and chagrinned, and I resolved to try to remember cheerfulness, rather than succumbing to feeling sorry for myself.
But it is hard, very hard, to carry on, to find any joy at all, when naughty Nigel has gone. When he’s not here to cajole some semblance of a smile from a truculent disposition. Perhaps the best way to hold his memory, however, is to try hard, very hard, to seek out that moment of joy, that precious moment that life brings, all unexpected and wondrous.
Like the quiet snow covering the mourning valley as the sun rises.
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