Today I received a phone call to let me know that a friend had died suddenly in the early hours of this morning.
N and A were a retired couple who were incredibly kind and supportive when I was at vicar school. They lived in the house literally across the road from the church where I did my long placement, and their door was always open with the offer of a cuppa, a toasted teacake, Sunday lunch or a midweek meal. A's cheesy leeks were - are - legendary! Truly two people who loved each other very deeply, and who exemplified the fulfilment of wedding vows.
At times my long placement was a difficult place to be, and this couple's home offered a refuge, a safe space to be when I had to hang around for evening meetings at the end of a day.
I have many happy memories - they came to my BA graduation in Manchester, sometimes took me out to lunch, they even drove down to Dibley once to tidy my garden which was beyond my (extrememly limited) ability, during which time we rescued a hedgehog. N played the piano for my ordination service, and they both attended my induction in Dibley. More recently (about three years ago!), they visited Glasgow and attended worship at the Gathering Place.
In the early hours of this morning A died. I will treasure my memories of her. Her down-to-earth Mancunian personality, calling a spade a spade. I will treasure the pastoral situations I was privileged to share with them as a family. I will smile and be glad, for my life is the richer for having known her.
Rest in Peace, A, you lived a good life, laughed often and loved much... I am privileged and grateful to have known you.