Thursday, 31 March 2011

where were you when...?

Do you remember where you were on 9-11?  When you heard the awful news that day?   

Or how you came to hear of the tragic death of Princess Diana?  

Does your memory stretch back to the death of the King – I mean Elvis but maybe there are some reading this who can remember as far back as George VI.

We were at the swimming baths on 9-11.  It was about half past three to four o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon.  The boys had lessons in the pool but all of us parents were glued to the TV set in the reception area.  Staring with disbelief at what was going on.  Adding to our number as others came in and stopped to watch the nightmare as it unfolded. 
The whole world was never the same.

When Diana died Andrew was away off shore.  I’d had a restless night with our eldest son who was not yet one year old.  He’d ended up in bed with me and sleepily I reached out and answered the phone as quickly as possible so not to wake the baby.

Andrew had been working night shift and had been watching 24 hour news as it happened.  He saw all the early news reports.  The uncertainty and speculation as the information trickled into the newsrooms across the world.

I held my baby tightly thankful that my little world was safe and praying for the two young princes left motherless.

In August 1977 we were on a family camping holiday.  Probably my dad and maybe my brother or I would have walked to the shop for milk and a paper.  Across the dewy grass of early morning.

“The King is Dead” would have been the most likely tabloid headline.  I can’t remember too many specifics, I was only 9 but I remember bits of the day quite clearly.  I knew then I wanted to buy an Elvis record and when the posthumous single “Way Down” was released I got a copy!  It was number 1 in the UK for five weeks in September of that year.

It didn’t change my world but it had an impact and even aged seven and nine my brother and I realised the significance of the event.

Why is it we remember deaths so clearly? 

Which deaths we recollect date how old we are and bring back a flood of other memories of the time.   It gives us something in common to remember the same date in history with someone although we were maybe miles apart.

The other day a friend of mine sent me a photo of where she was standing when she got a text to say Andrew had died.  I don’t believe it was a co-incidence where she was but a God-incidence.  She knew she had to take a photo and one day share it with me.

This is a paving stone outside the town hall in Inverness.

“He will guide them to the springs
of the waters of life:
and God will wipe every
 last tear from their eyes.”
It is a passage taken from Revelation chapter 21 verse 4 talking about heaven and it concludes
“There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever.”
In my head I have an image of God leading me by the hand, in much the same way Andrew would have held my hand and led me around the garden.  God will bring me to the springs of eternal life, wipe away my tears and then give me back to Andrew.  We will both be whole, together and happy.
It’s something beautiful to hold onto especially when the tears start to flow, in the moments when all my brokenness is too much to bear and the the everyday troubles and worries of life overcrowd my mind.


  1. Andrew's sudden fatal heart-attack will certainly be on my personal list, along with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the assasination of JFK
    Isn't it strange how you can visualise exactly where you were and what you were doing when you receive the shocking news? Almost like a still in a film, a clearly marked moment in time - there must be a small place in our brain where these moments are stored for them to be so instantly recallable and clear. Probably the shock, fear and horror and grief earmarks them for that special place. And a respect and concern for every one of those remembered. Lots of love from Arizona xxx