Funerals are hugely draining. This was only the second one this year for Steve and I. Both occasions were standing room only. Last Saturday, we saw his huge extended family together for the first time since Fleur’s wedding in 2011 very near the same beach town that the funeral was held yesterday.
The funeral was for Steve’s much admired older cousin, who once plied him with Kiwi Fruit wine to the point he was a rolling drunk at a family function There is no shortage of stories like this. There were five siblings in this family (all Steve’s cousins obviously), and my mother in law used to watch them sometimes when they were growing up. They would get into all sorts of mischief and blame another sibling and maintain solidarity in the confusion, so she never knew who to scold. They are all great people, and I relish the rare chances I get to see them or connect with them.
Kim passed away on Easter weekend on a bike ride around Mt. Cook. He died in his wife’s arms. They have known each other since she was 5 years old. They are as intertwined personally, professionally and socially as any couple on the planet. They worked and played together, and adventured around New Zealand and the world. He lived a life that was full of fun, resilience, community, leadership, kindness, innovation and adventure. I am so thankful to them for making me feel welcome and a part of the family when Steve and I first married, as I was (and still am) quite an odd duck among Steve’s Kiwi family. They are predominantly no nonsense and somewhat non-demonstrative rural types. But they all Love each other so much, and the family is tight and make sure they stay close and see each other at cool events like fun fancy dress weddings and special occasions.
I watch them all with great interest on Facebook. The amount of busy that Steve and I are means that we are only truly close to a small handful of the cousin’s kids (Fleur and Amy in Australia mostly), and most of our relationships are again, nurtured predominantly through Facebook.
We do Love them all very much, and the grief and shock of losing such a vibrant and important piece of their tightly woven tapestry was unspeakably sad.
So, as is the case with any situation, there’s something to be gained or learned from the experience. This funeral was HUGE. The rain was pouring down in solid sheets at one point, and the grass floor under the marquee was more like a lake than a lawn.
There were five or so seats up in the front area that was reserved for family, so I went to the back and invited five people to come and join us just moments before the ceremony started. The gentleman, Tony, that sat next to me, had known Kim and Robyn for years, and worked for them. He ADORES them, as did everyone there.
The thing that I noticed most obviously, is many of those who gave speeches talked about Kim in the present tense. I liked this. I am certain it was due to the untimely and sudden shock of losing him, and none of the guests at the funeral were fully able to grasp the loss that the family and community had just been dealt.
He was an incredibly good man. An excellent communicator, but hardly one who just liked the sound of his own voice. A kind, honest, and fair businessman. A partner and friend and equal to his amazing wife Robyn. A hero. A much adored and joyful father. An incredible poppa. An adventurer. And someone my husband has looked up to his entire life.
If you have taken the time to read this, I thank you. More importantly, I implore you to grab and hold every moment you have with those you Love. Hug more. Laugh more. Do more. See more. Cry more. Learn more. And hold those that you have loved and lost close forever by sharing their stories.
Thank you for reading. I wish you health, happiness and adventure. And every time I see Kiwi wine I shall think of a man who had a surplus of all of these things, even though he was taken too soon.