Shadow Of Victory

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Wednesday 6th May ; Way back Then

February 23rd 7pm 1971.

Life as I knew it came to an abrupt end..I came home from school at 3.30 pm as usual and at 7pm ...way past the time my dad and brother usually arrived home from work I was watching TV and the door opened and in walked my dad. He was followed by a policeman who helped him to sit down and then very calmly told me that Robert was dead. I looked at my dad who was white and in shock and waited for him to explain what the policeman had meant...what had happened..was it an accident..had his motorbike gone off the road ..was he in hospital....I remember an eerie silence as the policeman went to make a cup of tea ..thinking surely it was all a joke or a dream. Shortly after the door opened again and my other brother came in the door...he had ridden Roberts motorbike back from Dundee and was windswept and dirty.

The policeman gave us all some hot tea and then left...after telling my dad to come into the station in the morning.I sat the silence and watched my dad weep...and when I say weep I don't mean the kind of crying that men sometimes do with a sniffle and a hanky quickly wiped over their faces....I mean deep gut wrenching ...soul destroying ....anguished moans from somewhere in the very depth of his being. You read in novels about this but I had never ever seen dad was in some kind of emotional pain that was torture to watch. He was holding my brothers hand and the two of them were clinging to each other as if to anchor themselves before this hurricane of emotion which was sweeping them beyond endurance.

I was "outside " all this ...almost ignored....I still had no idea of what had happened and neither of them seemed able or interested in telling me.I left the room dry eyed and sat on the bed and waited ..not sure what I was waiting for but I knew I couldn't be in the same room as they were...I didn't belong there. Later that night my dad got very drunk and continued to cry and refused to eat or go to bed...until around midnight he fell asleep . We put him to bed and my brother and I sat looking at each other for over an hour before he could even begin to tell me what had happened.

Robert had gassed himself...he had fed the meter in his wee attic student flat and turned it on and lay down in front of it. His girlfriend F was home in Edinburgh for the weekend and it was obvious he had planned it so he wouldn't be discovered and in fact it turned out he had been dead for almost 3 days before his body was discovered. F had gone to the flat and when she couldn't get an answer had gone to the landlord who broke the door down.....and then rang the police and they had contacted Edinburgh to get a local policeman to find my dad. F knew where he worked and they had picked him and my brother up mid morning. They had taken them by car to Dundee by noon where they were asked to identify the body and of course fill in all sorts of forms.

No-one had thought to inform me or get me from school and this became the pattern over the following days....Dad made me go to school the following day whilst they went to police station..arranging for Roberts body to be moved to the mortuary in Dundee...I wasn't asked if I wanted to see him or say goodbye...I continued to go to school whilst they organised the funeral and then I was told I couldn't go to the funeral...I had to go to Galashiels and "sit " with Granny as she was too poorly to be left. (As an aside I "saw" Robert for years after the street.on the shops...because I hadn't actually seen him..his body .. deep down I somehow or other didn't really believe he was dead.) The funeral came and went and large numbers of relatives and friends visited us and I heard later and saw a small paragraph in the Dundee paper that over 300 students had packed the chapel with many of them contributing to the service. In the short 6 months he had been attending the university he had impacted so many of the other students there.He was my brother and no-one allowed me to say goodbye or mourn him ...and I miss him even now. My mum didn't come to the funeral nor were my half brother or sister able to come over from was as if my half of the family weren't a part of Roberts life.

My inner life changed during this period....I felt as if I didn't count..didn't matter...I remember sitting on the loo....saying to God.."if you really really exist please help me ". I was on the outside looking in and as time moved us beyond the initial grief and we began to function as a small family again I knew I wasn't part of it in the same way. My dad began to drink in a serious way and most nights he would go straight to the pub from work and then stagger home where he would stand in front of the fire and sing maudlin songs....Did I ever mention my dad had a cracking voice?? he could sing with the best of them and who knows in another life he could have been famous...he would stand and belt out "Oh Danny Boy " "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot" "Climb Up On My Knee Sonny Boy" and a long held favourite "Nobodys Child". My worst ever moment in these days was waking up one night in the early hours and watching my dad sit on edge of his bed with tears dripping down his nose and I could just hear his voice saying over and over again "why him...why him...why not one of the others..why him" and as I went back to sleep I sensed this take root in my spirit ....which is altogether another area to explore in later blogs .

This is possibly one of my most painful blog entries but I fully believe that God heard my prayer at that time... altho it has taken years before I realised He had answered that prayer.....I know I couldn't possibly have survived this and other traumas without His unseen and unknown presence....keeping me alive and moving me towards Christ.It was two very short years before I was to first meet Chris and the destiny that God had for me would begin to unfold.

Jeremiah Ch 29 v 11....
"For I know the plans I have for you..plans to give you hope and a future.."


Ruthie said...

Love you. x

Anonymous said...

OOh Irene, I am still crying .. but you are just so amazing. You write and I can almost feel that the stress of that time in your life. I am so glad that God knew the plans he had for you.

Love you dearly, dear friend

Iris xxx