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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, December 18, 2002
    Time the trickster
    Caught up today in the odd tricks time plays around death. The verger and I, remembering a sometimes frosty woman, a gifted speaker, a committed competitor, shared a simple ceremony as we poured Eileen's ashes into a hole cut through a layer of frosty grass this morning. I watched my words rising in the air on my visible breath, just as prayers ought to do. A micro-moment, but Eileen's final one.

    This afternoon, a ceremony of tears and song, clergy-heavy and throbbing with people as a congregation stood still in shock together to remember Pam, who'd had ill-health all her brief-ish life but who went very unexpectedly last week. She and we all thought it was just a bad bout of flu. The service was a major moment, a celebration of a significant community figure. The church became an intense vessel containing the whole community's shock, sadness, fondness, love combined; rocking, unstable.

    And throughout the day, the oddest time washed around by returning thoughts of Douglas and his family, who are my family too. My last remaining paternal uncle died today. We're a small family, just got smaller. Time collides with memories, hopes, regrets, all manner of emotions at news like that. In death, time becomes a trickster, stands still, speeds up, moves backwards, freeze-frames. Holds us.