Living In Shadow – Extract Two

7 Dec 2013, at 14:57 (Email)

 

Dear Ian

I did not know your son, so cannot share any memories with you, but I share you and your wife’s pain.

When my daughter Helen Jones was killed in the London Bombing (7/7) I was afraid of forgetting things that happened in her life, so I asked all her friends to share their memories as you have done. The book that was produced was purely a private affair for her friends and family and those who win the bursary that was set up in her name.

If it would help I would be very willing to either send you a copy so that you could see one way of setting it out or if you would like we would be very happy to come down (to Carlisle) and meet you and give you a copy personally.

Liz.

10 November 2014

 

I too am afraid of forgetting things about Dominic just as Liz writes above. Whilst my head is constantly bombarded with his image, when I actually try to recall a specific memory, I have to work hard to see it clearly.

He went off to Lanzarote to work when he was seventeen. We went out within a week or two to make sure everything was okay. He came to find our hotel on the first day. He sat next to me on a lounger by the pool, and it was so good to see him. He didn’t take his shirt off to sunbathe though, he had impetigo and my heart ached for him. There was no way he would have come home, and I wouldn’t have asked him too. But the image blurs as I try to recall our conversations throughout the rest of the day. I wish now I had insisted he came home. We would have had another six months with him.

Sunday 23rd February 2014 2.30pm

Eden Valley Hospice Carlisle –

 

Susan didn’t want to go; she wasn’t ready to meet anyone yet that she didn’t know.

‘Hi I’m Ian. I’ve come to meet Liz’

The receptionist smiled and nodded and pointed to a woman in a sitting area on the left four or five yards away. I signed the visitor’s book, as she walked to meet me.

The first time you see someone is the hardest, time and place are irrelevant. As soon as you hear ‘I’m really sorry about Dom, he was a lovely lad’ or ‘I didn’t know him but it must be awful’ or even just a sad smile to let you know, that they know, I inevitably cry. Not full blown head in the hands wailing, but tears, unstoppable tears.

‘Hi Ian, would you like a coffee?’

I nodded, the now familiar emotion choking me as she guides us back to the sitting area.

This phenomenon of strangers, contacting you and wanting to help you is the most inspiring. Other people, like Julie and Jane and now Liz, who have followed the same path, want to reach out to you with words, to acknowledge your circumstances, or to just hold your hand.

‘I’m sorry Liz, Susan didn’t feel up to it in the end’

She smiled serenely whilst pouring the coffee.     ‘Perhaps next time’

Her husband David arrived and we spent the next three hours talking about grief, Helen, and Dominic.

Some people do extraordinary things in grief or through grief. In grief, instead of speaking out against the jihadists, Liz and David have spent the last eight years talking to members of the Muslim faith trying to understand the motivation behind a young man that drives him to commit suicide in a public place and to end the lives of 26 other people he didn’t know.

Liz and David are both Christians, and they have approached these discussions with imams and young Muslims alike in a well-balanced and helpful way. But, even after nine years, whilst talking to me they still couldn’t hold back their tears for Helen.

Through grief, on the 4th October 2013, two friends dropped their lives and drove from Cheshire to Vicargate. They wanted to be with us and be close enough if and when they were needed. They lived in their camper van in our paddock. They were there on and off for over two months.

Liz contacted me to share their thoughts on a book of memories for Dominic; they had done something similar for Helen. David also wrote a book of poetry and I’ve included one that I strongly associate with.

The One I need the Most

It is terribly unfair

the one person I need

to help face this crisis

is now dead and gone.

 

She would have known

The advice I need now

To try and survive this

But she’s dead, gone.

 

There is no blame now

You were not to know

That I would need you

soon as you were gone.

 

Wednesday 5th November 2014

 

I went to the book launch last night of my neighbour and Cumbrian writer, Irvine Hunt. He told me he knew Dominic very well.  Over the years Dom had done some electrical work for him, and they thought a great deal of him. Like many of our neighbours, he will have seen and heard Dom buzzing around on his quad bike from the age of eleven. I’m sure Irvine as a writer wouldn’t have been too impressed as Dominic’s 125cc broke into his solitude at very strange times of the day and night. But, he did still speak well of him as a polite and skilful young man

Irvine’s new book is called ‘The Ghost Show’ and is based on the real-life Biddall family who toured the North of England and the Lake District in the early 1900’s with their mysterious and scary ghost show. Despite many in the theatre audience not believing in ghosts, the travelling fairground family’s attraction always left them with an element of doubt.

After the 4th October 2013, I desperately started looking for answers, and hope. I allude to this search in the first couple of pages of the short story Narrow Field of Vision. It only attracts a paragraph in the piece, but I spent days even weeks, even now, I look for; the meaning of life, death, the afterlife, God, the Devil, a sign, a forgotten or lost hieroglyphic that will guide me so that Dominic and I will meet up again somehow, somewhere. In the spring, I even considered a psychic.

Some people find God at this point, some people lose him.

Irvine’s book is an enjoyable distraction, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I still look for signs: a crab apple falling from a tree and hitting me on the shoulder as I walk down to the church yard. Is that Dom trying to speak to me? Deep down I know I will never see him again, but like Julie I can’t help continuing to look.

Nor do I believe in a God that takes a loved son, a grand-son, and brother. However, I do admire religious people who believe in a better life, or another life beyond this one. And that is the hope, the gamble and the happy ending that they have come to an agreement on with their God.

I am a Christian currently without a God, and Lindsay AKA Abdullah Shaheed Jamal, had just found his. Islam and Christianity both believe suicide is an ecclesiastical crime, so what brings us together in a world that doesn’t agree with suicide? I can only see that sacrifice is the ultimate price that we can pay. Part of my deal with the devil is that I am willing to trade my life for Dominic’s, wind the clock back, and it’s me in the car that night, not him. Is that suicide?

Throughout the mourning process, sometimes you feel as though you can’t go on without that person in your life, and suicide is the only solution. Lindsay clearly loved his God, and he was willing to sacrifice his life to meet him and to be accepted into his house forever. I would however, question any God that asks one of his flock to take their own life and the lives of other people whilst on a journey to enlightenment. If there is a house of God, a heaven, no one on this earth deserves to enter it more than Dominic. He has lived his life like everything he did was in preparation for it, all the good deeds and kindness, the love, the generosity, the Dom rules. But for everyone like me, like Lindsay, love especially combined with loss is a powerful thing, and until you embark on its passage, you don’t know what you will do and what you are capable of.

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