On Monday 1st November we said our final goodbyes to my sister-in-law in a beautiful and moving ceremony that, while it was achingly sad, was also a celebration of her life. The sun peeked through the clouds half way through and I could see a robin outside, which I found very comforting throughout the service.
The crematorium was so packed that people had to stand all along the walls - amazing considering that Anna has lived the last 10 years in Dubai and many of her friends are waiting there for a second, more informal get together.
The ceremony ended with a letter which Anna had written and my brother had found when he was clearing her things away after she had died. It was warm, uplifting and humorous - a final gift from someone who throughout her illness has put everyone else's feelings before her own.
Over and over people kept saying how incredible my brother is, so strong and so capable. As was said in the service, in my brother Anna had found a very strong rock to lean against when she needed it the most.
And yes he is amazing. He has been Anna's rock for 5 and half years and he cared for her in her final weeks, while still looking after their 2 children, doing his job and keeping himself together.
But, at only 36, he has lost his soul mate and the love of his life.
He has flown back to Dubai, the boys are back at school, he is back in the office. He is living between his house and my parents house. He's working his way through the many 'firsts' that he has to do. He tells me it is even worse than he ever imagined it would be. And he has had a long time to think about what it might be like. I can hardly bear to think about how much he is suffering. Except of course I just can't stop thinking about it.
As music often speaks louder than words - certainly than my words - here is the music that my brother chose for the funeral, in the order it was played. Anna and my brother never actually got round to discussing the funeral. There was always other things to do and to talk about and they kept putting it off until tomorrow until it was too late. So he chose himself from songs that he knew Anna loved and that would also be fitting for the occasion. I think he chose well.
The first song was the one we walked into and the last, chosen by one of Anna's best friends, was the one
to which Harry and Max, with my brother by their side, placed their homemade paper bouquets onto the coffin and then walked away.Simple Minds - Alive & KickingThe Fray - How to Save a LifeColdplay - Fix YouNatalie Merchant - Kind and Generous