I’ve been thinking about my funeral.
Well, it is actually. I’m not feeling morbid or having a premonition or anything. Just hearing an old love song that’s part of an advertising campaign on UK telly at the moment and thinking, yes, I’d like that one played at my funeral.
I do believe that what will survive of us is love. It’s the last line of Larkin’s poem An Arundel Tomb, and uncharacteristically upbeat of the cynical old bugger who famously wasn’t too keen on it after he wrote it. But whether he believed it or not, I do.
I also believe that all we need is love is all we need. You can call me a hippy and a Beatles fan if you want. They’re not bad things to be.
Love is the centre of my existence. It informs everything I think and do. Not constantly and often not in the heat of a moment. I’m no saint. But eventually, inevitably, everything comes down to love. And I’m fortunate to be surrounded by it. Enveloped in it. Carried through life on it.
I wrote this poem for my wife a few years after a traumatic event nearly killed me and left me crippled, during a setback that had us wondering how far my recovery to mobility would go and had me unsure of how long I had left in me. I hope someone will read this in the service too. It’s called Planting for Spring.
The smoky memory of this afternoon
will live forever.
I sat in the wheelchair, wrapped up
in fallen leaves and drifts of sleep,
while you kneeled in the mellow sun
to plant tulips and snowdrops.
Remember how much I love you.
Your eyes are warm daylight.
Your brave smile my summer
and your hair, my fiery autumn.
We are together now but eventually,
you know, we’ll walk into winter alone.
You are already closer to the earth.
You always were. Remember:
Hold tight through the long night,
and when the snow has melted
my shroud your tulips and snowdrops
will renew the spring in your step.
And remember how much I love you.
That’s the message I want to leave my loved ones. I love them. I’ve always loved them. My love for them is bigger than me and it will survive my death.
So here’s the song.
What song, reading, or message would you like your loved ones to hear at your funeral?