Last Friday was Janet’s funeral; she died at the age of 49 of cancer. Although she lived only a few houses away, I’d never got to know her well, although I’d spoken to her on a few occasions at village dos, particularly admiring her photographs of the area, landscapes further away and Scottish flora and fauna.
Janet was a staunchly independent woman. A marine biologist by profession and a photographer by passion, she never gave up on life; even in her last week she’d ordered a new sofa for the house.
She’d planned her whole funeral, which was to be a humanist affair, but she fell out with the humanists after she insisted on having All things bright and beautiful sung at the funeral. A friend from the village stepped into the breach and the village hall was commandeered for the event.
It was her instruction, amongst many for the funeral, that bright colours and daffodils should be worn. Typical of Argyll funerals, the event was planned for lunchtime so that people could get away from work to attend. The hall was packed with people and the window cills were packed with jars of daffodils – their musk hung heavy in the hall throughout the funeral.
Janet had chosen a willow coffin, which was great to see, but the unintended consequence was that, with the light behind it, she was herself present in silhouette, something which some people found strangely comforting.
Instead of any formal religious service, the funeral was a succession of music of Janet’s choosing interspersed with readings and words from her family and friends.
Tears were shed, we shared moments of quiet contemplation listening to music and, at the last, she left alone in the company of the undertakers for her final journey. As she did so, we sang together and kept her family in the midst of the living.