I am parked in a gateway just outside North Marston. A low, late autumn sun cascades thin light through light grey clouds, the trees and hedgerows a forlorn combination of greens, browns, flecked yellow. I have just come from a visit to my father's grave, a practice I allow myself once in a while. Truth is, it's just a grave isn't it? An unremarkable piece of ground that served as the last resting place of a man fortunate enough to live a full, albeit slightly curtailed life.
I'm not one for deep introspection, and my visits tend to feel a bit anti climatic. The cemetery is set amidst pretty countryside on the outskirts of Winslow, a quiet plot of land marked by tall hedgerows and a black ornate entrance gate.
I tend not to think so much of his death, but rather of those left behind. My mother was married to him for 48 years, and I'm awed at how she has succeeded in creating something positive from the ashes of that loss.
That's all we can do, isn't it? Head down, move on, doing our best to make our lives meaningful? I expect all who read this have been bereaved at some point, and if not then be sure that's it's coming your way. But resist, if you can the urge to hurl yourself off the nearest bridge at the prospect, because you've got some living to do yet. There's a journey ahead that doesn't have to be bleak or morose; it can be beautiful and numinous and enriching. And we're all on the same conveyor belt after all, so don't let mortality bring you down too much.
I'm parked the gateway that marks the beginning of Matthews Walk, so named after a young child who perished at a cruelly young age. I walked it earlier this year and it was memorable for both the company and the landscape I shared it with. I wonder whether we need to do more to remind ourselves that our glass is half full rather than half empty? Hell, it's worth reminding ourselves that we're even holding the bloody glass. Of all the people that could have been born you and I were; that's neither to be sniffed at nor taken for granted. So whatever road you traverse, and whether you're drifting through the meadows of relative comfort or scaling the jagged peaks of tribulation, do so in the knowledge that it didn't have to be you there doing it. You scooped the jackpot, won the main prize, and succeeded where literally billions did not.
Pat yourself on the back, kid. That's quite a victory.