Today I went to a funeral.

I am aware that the above title might put some off checking out this post but that’s what today was. Some folk only check social media for the funnies but I guess it all just depends on what is going on in your life.

I haven’t been home for a while, Home, here, to Lewis, where I grew up. I now live in Ireland but Lewis is ‘Home Home’, my real home. If you have grown up on an island you will understand that. If you are fiercely proud of where you grew up you will understand that also.

The islands here can become isolated by weather, I might not get away on the plane on Thursday, it doesn’t worry me as I have nothing pressing – this week – but others might not cope so readily with that. Not islanders but visitors. Islanders are used to this. We can be bound very directly by the weather.

Now, I am well aware this happens throughout the world but in Alaska, for example, where they also fight with the weather there is a land mass next to you that stretches for 1000’s of miles, drive west from my house here and you’re in the sea in an hour, drive east you’re in the sea within 3 minutes. It’s the same North and South. When I was growing up here I thought the sea surrounding me, protected me, when I moved to Ireland I thought the sea then stopped me from reaching ‘home’.

I think because of the weather, and the fact at times it can be hard living here, even with all the ‘mod cons’, I believe we islanders are hardy. Maybe that is a ‘romantic’ notion. The sea though is very important to us. It shapes us. The wind shapes us too.

Lewis folk can be reserved. We are considered before we join in things. Tradition is still important. This doesn’t mean we won’t be raucous but tradition is based on things we have experienced.

Today at the funeral I was aware of what it might be like. It might be sombre. It might not be a ‘celebration’.

The cemetery is beside the sea. Many Lewis cemeteries are by the sea and that is for good reason. The sea always shows the passage of time. It is always changing. It shows something beyond the finality of such a day. People were respectful, as they would be, and it was just right. There was ceremony but there was also celebration. Just as my Auntie’s ashes were placed in the ground, the sun shone bright and broke through the cloud and even knowing what the day was it seemed to show a new horizon. Everybody shared the past, the moment and the future.

I was sad but I was also very happy.


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