Three months since I set off on my #walk4andy, I think all the money is in and an amazing £5698 has been raised for VHL UK/Ireland, money that will support families going through what we have been through as well as funding research to help find a cure and improved treatment.
I could never have imagined that so many people would respond in the way they have to the #walk4andy but I guess it is a mark of how touching Andy’s story is, the impact he had and continues to have on those who loved him. Yesterday marked four years since our dad died, just three and a half months before Andy himself died. Anniversaries are funny things. It is painful but it also feels good to remember and even to relive the moment you heard the news, where you were, how it felt, what you did next. Sometimes it can help to revisit places, where it happened or where they are laid to rest. Anniversaries allow us the space to remember well.
This summer I also lost a good friend in the parish, someone else who had suffered a lot of grief and heartache in her life. Ministry is very rarely a one-way street, and this person ministered to me as much as I was able to minister to her. We shared stories of our lost loved ones and she offered me much in the way of comfort, encouragement and solidarity. Her funeral was heartbreaking but beautiful. We wanted to remember her well and we did. But again I am drawn to think about how life can be better because she lived rather than worse because she has died.
The organization that supported my friend with her mental health needs has tragically had to close, and I hope that in some small way I might be able to support those who are trying to keep the provision of these vital services going through the charitable and voluntary sector.
Jesus said, ‘unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’ At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that death can lead to life, closure can lead to a new opening, an end can also be a new beginning. But that’s easier said than done and I don’t think it just happens automatically. It is an act of faith to commit ourselves to discovering a new beginning even in the midst of the ashes of the life that has gone.
I know my life will never be the same because of those I have lost. I will always carry them with me, and I hope the way I live will honour all that they have given to me. The #walk4andy has shown me just what is possible and, even though I’m sure I will fall back into old ways every so often (I am only human, after all!), I intend to lead a new life, walking in the footsteps of the one who went through death to life.
So, this is me signing off from the blogosphere, for now at least. Thank you for your support and for following me on my journey. May God bless you on yours.