There's a tape playing in my head, over and over.
I'm on my knees on the bedroom floor, pumping my husband’s chest like his life depends on it. It does. The phone’s on loud speaker and a blessedly calm female voice at the end of the 000 line is making me count each CPR compression out loud so she can monitor my timing. She is reassuring as she tracks the ambulance’s swift progress through the pre-dawn gloom to my front door.
"You’re doing really well. Now you’re going to keep it up till the paramedics are there beside you, OK? The ambulance has just turned into your street. It should be pulling up right now. Can you hear them yet?"
I've already flung wide the front door, so the four paramedics can race up the stairs and immediately begin their work. I phone a friend who lives closest, selfishly waking her with the news that her friend of more than 50 years is battling for his life. She’s there in minutes and together we cling together at the other end of the room as every piece of available modern technology is applied to the situation. It's a comfort to me, and a credit to them, that not once does anyone say my husband is not going to make it. But after 40 minutes we know the truth. My darling man has gone.
Twelve days later I can still hardly believe it. The sun rose, as it always has, on that Saturday morning, the first day of spring, and life outside my bubble of grief life has gone on as if nothing has happened. The wisteria in my garden has transformed itself from a bare tracery of sticks to a hedge of dripping purple. Everything outside these walls has continued on uninterrupted and the sun has shone brightly every single day.
But my life has changed forever.
I'm bereft, adrift. I feel half a person. Our whole family is devastated. We are numb with shock at the suddenness of Boak’s death. And whilst I know this turn of events is all part of the Lord’s plan, He and I don’t entirely see eye to eye over this one right now. And I know that’s OK with Him too.
This week has been a blur. I've been carried along on a huge wave of love and compassion. My house is filled with flowers, my freezer is stocked with food, I have a huge box filled with cards and letters from well-wishers, and I've been oh so cared for! I have the BEST family and friends in the world!
Boak's funeral service on Thursday was so very, very beautiful, but I desperately wish he was here to help me pick up the pieces of a life cut short, to hug me close and tell me it will be alright.
I'll never forget the sight of our brave young assistant minister and the three scarlet-clad bishops doing Boak the singular honour of walking his hearse down Darling Point Road, pausing briefly outside our home of the last 10 years, as the police directed traffic and the whole world seemed to stop for a few minutes.
Boak was a gentleman, a man of real integrity, compassion and principle. As a minister he loved his congregations, and when they needed him in tough times he was always there. It saddened him when too often he heard someone had been ill, hadn't thought to send him a message to let him know, and now felt uncared for. His great gift, however, was as a preacher. Oh, how that man could preach!
He seriously underestimated the effect his words had on people, but I've had several separate messages this week from folk to whom his simple greeting at the church door one morning meant the world to them, given the particular concerns on their minds at the time.
What a blessing that he was able to marry Ben and Sunny just 4 weeks earlier.
Boak was authentic. What you saw was what you got. He could at times be inflexible, irascible, pessimistic and obsessive. But he could also be tender, solicitous, selfless, loving and funny. I could always rely on him to see a way through difficulties, and handle problems wisely and thoughtfully.
He had a fine sense of the ridiculous. Who in our family will ever forget his performances of "Dancing on the Table with my Teddy Bear", a ditty he composed for The Princess when she was just weeks old so he could dance her around the kitchen?
He demonstrated his love for me not just in words, but in real and loving actions, the last couple of years waking me with breakfast in bed every morning and making the dinner every evening when I had lost my mojo for cooking. Wednesday was the day he did his own washing, but that was more about making sure I couldn't lose any of his socks in the wash than about saving me the chore! He always maintained that, unlike me, he never lost a single sock after taking on the washing himself.(.hmmmm...I wonder!).
We've shared 40 years of marriage and he's been my treasured companion. We've worked as a team and, though I won't pretend life has always been perfect, we’ve always loved each other and told each other so. He had a tender side that few saw and I'm so grateful that in Gods loving plan my voice was the last he heard.
As I pick up the pieces I struggle to find strength and consolation in four thoughts -
* The way Boak always encouraged me when I doubted my own abilities (which i do most of the time). I want to make him proud of me as I rebuild my life.
* My three grown children and two daughters-in-law who I love so much and who have so swiftly and sensitively taken charge of what's had to be done this week. I know I can count on their love and support - but I don't ever want to burden them.
* My unbelievably generous and loving friends, who’ve also been by my side. They are all an inspiration to me and I know one day, one day, things will get better.
* Finally, I know have the best and most dependable arms of all carrying me through this, and indeed the whole of my life.
Deuteronomy 33:27 - The eternal God is your rescue, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
I just pray He’ll erase that tape inside my head before too long.
PS. I’ll be back here very soon, blogging about quilting and other snippets ‘n’ scraps of my life, so please bear with me while I try to re-join some of those scraps.
Links to some articles written about Boak by his colleagues and our friends -http://sydneyanglicans.net/news/stories/former-dean-of-sydney-dies