Thursday, 25 June 2009

An emotional but wonderful trip to Devon

I am back in Maidenhead after the trip to Devon. Leaving was a really hard hard thing to do after returning to our special place and leaving Richie's ashes there. Its been a really strange few days with emotions going all over the place. Ill start with Monday.

So Monday afternoon I went with a close friend to collect Richard's ashes from the funeral home. I hadn't collected them before as for some odd reason had been too scared to. I rang the funeral home that morning to let them know I was coming. The lady on reception refers to Richard's ashes as they are actually him which I find really strange. For example when they received his ashes after his funeral they rang me to say "Richard was back with them" - I just found that bizarre. So anyway, I rang up to advise them I was coming across that afternoon and the lady tells me "That's good Ill keep Richard close by". Odd odd odd!! Anyway I picked them up and was very shocked by how heavy they were, I don't know why I expected them to be light - I guess I had not thought about that and was more worried about the emotional response to collecting his ashes rather than the physical one (if I carried him around too much I was gonna get repetitive strain injury!). After picking him up (oh man I'm at it now, but I suppose its easier to type him or Rich that Richard's ashes etc) I headed home. It felt weird bringing him home but not in a bad way, it was weirdly nice. Getting to walk around the house that he built for us and didn't get to see finished.

Dave, my part time lodger, was down that evening as was joining us in Devon. Dave and Rich had spent a lot of time together in his last few months when Dave first started staying with us. Dave "The Angel" (not a nickname I had given him btw!!) had given us a lot of practical help - doing the electrics for the extension and helping me out with runs to the hospital when I was tied up with work or the kids. But had also helped a lot emotionally as well - getting Rich tipsy on a variety of different whiskies for one and in the past six months being there for me to shout and scream at when I have bad days! Anyway, I'm digressing again, so me, Dave and Rich sat out in the garden on Monday evening having a few glasses of wine - each one toasting the big man and his wonderfulness.

I went to bed that evening with my hubby for the last time (does that make me weird?) and even though I only slept for a few hours I slept really well. I woke early the next morning and thought it was best to get up and keep myself busy by getting everything ready so I wasn't running around like a mad woman with the kids and school runs etc. But as soon as I got out of bed I had a massive emotional wave pour over me and just broke down crying. I guess when we had Richard's funeral I was in a massive bubble of shock and disbelief and it had never really sank in, but now it was and having to say Goodbye to him again was bringing all the pain and sorrow that this awful thing had happened to him back. The rest of the morning was a bit of a blur. Friends started to arrive as we were driving in transit and I dropped the kids and their stuff off with Zoe (I didn't take Bec and Harry down with me, I had sat down with Becs and explained what I was doing and that I thought it was best for her to not come this time but we would go to the spot later in the year, plus with Harry how could I explain that all was left of his beloved Daddy was a pot of ashes).

The drive down was fairly painless, bit of traffic but nothing too bad. Plus Dave had his foot down trying to catch up with Kat and Lisa who had left a little earlier than us!

We got to Preston Sands beach in Paignton a little after 11:30. Mum, Dad, Julie, Josh and Georgina where already there as they travelled down the evening before. We had to wait about an hour for Katy to catch up with us so we chilled out on the beach and had a paddle (yep it was freezing!) and kicked a football about a bit. The weather was not that great, overcast and a little bit chilly - having said that we would all run into the sea I was guessing that Richie would want to make it a proper challenge for us to prove our commitment! Once Katy arrived we moved a little closer to the shore line and stripped down to our swimwear ready to dive in! Before we ran in I played If I Ever Leave This World Alive and we all downed a shot of Tequila after toasting Richie. As we did this thankfully the sun came out, however the sea was FREEZING! But we all ran in and got right in (even Lisa and Kat who wouldn't even get in a nice swimming pool on a boiling hot day in Madrid so hats off to my girls!). For me the combination of an empty tummy mixed with Tequila and cold water created an exceedingly sick feeling, especially when I then got a mouthful of sea water - yuk! We stayed in the water swimming about and stuff for about ten minutes before getting out of the sea to dry off and head onto Berryhead.

Driving into Brixham and along the Berryhead road to the hotel was another emotional wave for me, the last time I had driven along there had been with my Dad, sisters, Bec, Harry and Katy in the back of a limo - all in our PJ's drinking Champagne and excited about getting hair and make-up done for the big day.

We parked up at the hotel and organised checking into rooms etc then sat out on the terrace and had some lunch. The views are amazing:-

We had some champagne and made more toasts to Richie. We also looked through the wedding photo album and remembered back to this time two years ago.
It was then time to climb down onto the rocks and scatter the ashes. When we got to the right spot (checking wind directions etc as didn't want any comedy ashes disasters that you see in movies, although Rich would have loved that).
I had another song played - Who Knew by Pink. As I unscrewed the lid of the ashes I felt my whole body shaking and started to have a massive panic, what if this wasn't what he wanted? I could hardly go back and collect them up again. My Mum just held me and reassured me that this was the right thing to do. So I started to pour and the tears were pouring down my face. I could hear everyone else crying too. It is hard to describe how devastating that moment was and also at the same time how lovely it was. The sun was shining and as the song finished all you could hear was the gently sounds of the sea lapping the rocks and shore line - it was a very beautiful moment. After a few minutes everyone headed back up to the hotel and left me with Mum, Dad and Julie. The four of us hugged, cried and cried a bit more. I then asked them if I could have some time on my own. As they climbed back up I climbed down a bit more and sat with my legs in the sea trying to take it all in and I just couldn't. One of my friends bought me a glass of wine down so I sat there for a while with my wine before heading back to the hotel.
Shortly after that Mum and Dad had to head home with Josh as Dad needed to be at work early the next morning. It was hard saying goodbye to them and equally hard for them to leave. Craig and Jackie also headed off as they were staying across in Torquay. The rest of us had a few more drinks on the terrace before getting dressed for dinner.
The hotel had arranged for us to use a private room for dinner so we all got dressed up in proper evening wear (Rich use to love getting his tux out!) and headed to the Library suite for our meal. More champagne and toasts to the big man. For most people it wasn't a late night - it had been a long day with lots of travelling, emotional stuff and alcohol!
Wednesday morning was awake fairly early with a slight headache and very dry mouth! So I headed down to breakfast for lots of juice and cups of tea! We didn't need to check out until 11 so I climbed back down the rocks and sat down there for about 20mins. The fresh air and sea breeze was making me feel more human! I went back to my room and had an hour snooze before getting up and showered. Those of us that didn't need to head off early met out on the terrace. I took my last climb down the rocks and checked out the rock pools!
We then headed to Torquay to have lunch in what was mine and Richie's favourite restuarant down there - its called the Pier Point and does fab pizzas and a really good home made garlic dip - yummy!
Driving away from Berryhead was awful, I really wished I had planned to stay a few days longer. But we have all agreed that we will make the same trip on the same date every year and regardless of the weather still all dive into the sea baywatch style!!

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