I write this from Milton Keynes. If Lincoln is my childhood home. MK is definitely the home of my adulthood. Not a place I expected to be in the foreseeable future. It’s a bittersweet experience.
Cancer has brought me here in more ways than one, for last night I attended the thanksgiving service for a friend of mine who died from Leukaemia just after I arrived back in the UK to face my own cancer treatment and although the Myeloma I suffer is different and less risky cancer of the blood it still hit me hard at the time. Rachel was ten years younger than me and fought bravely for ten months before succumbing to an infection during stem cell treatment when her bodies immunity was at its lowest.
Last night’s thanksgivings service was an amazing celebration of life. It had the feeling of a wedding as much as that of a funeral – though in truth it was neither. There were speeches and jokes, readings and songs (both secular and hymns). There were jokes and reminiscences poignant and humorous. The service was led ably by the rector and clergy of St Mary’s and the address by another vicar and close family friend was perfect. After there was a gathering at a local hotel, cream tea and cakes and sandwiches which was far from a wake and closer to a reception. I was impressed by the stoicism and positivity of the wider family – it truly was a celebration.
For me it was also a chance to reconnect with the church of which I was a part for 26 years. To catch up with old friends. It’s good to talk and as much as I have engaged in virtual chat on social media – it’s never the same as speaking face to face. Many folk st St Mary’s have been supporting us in prayer during our time abroad and especially in recent weeks following my diagnosis and this has been such an encouragement.
I’m staying here with good friends who have extended their welcome from one night to two, busy as they are with their own lives. This allows me the chance to rest in MK for the weekend, a chance to come and go as I please and to get to a normal Sunday morning service tomorrow, which will be good. With luck I will get a chance to catch up with a few folk today too, albeit at short notice.