Every year, June is a difficult month. I’m not particularly sure how this has come about, but every year I find that the sixth month of the year brings with it emotional challenges I have to face head on. And it’s not only me; I have a few friends who also seem to have a bundle badness along with the start of summer.
This year, it has been returning to my hometown in Wales. My beloved uncle Quentin passed away some weeks ago, and this last week I went home for the funeral. He was a true eccentric; a man who wore monogrammed clothing, a man who had a bowtie for every occasion and then some. He would tell me stories of adventures on the Queen Elizabeth 2 or, as I got older, stories of his naughty escapades as a rep. He would insist that “standards are not being maintained” if something wasn’t quite right, and would refer to my sister and myself as his “professional nieces”. She and I told the congregation of the funeral all these stories, as we celebrated his life while all wearing one of his signature bow ties. It felt right to celebrate him; he was not a person for sadness – he brought joy and silliness to all occasions throughout my life.
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Last week was my uncle Quentin's funeral. He was a true eccentric, always telling me stories of his times on the QE2 or dirty escapades from his youth. I miss him. His funeral was actually this lovely celebration of his life, and we all wore one of his bowties to the service – he had over fifty! I've kept this velvet one and my favourite tweetybird one that he used to wear a lot when i was small.
Going home for a funeral is hard, but as the time to leave drew closer, I realised how afraid I was. I had built up my homeland as a place where terrible things happened to me. I mean, they did happen but so did many good things. I had lost sight of those. But this trip was about good memories and it was about making new good memories.
Once we arrived in my village, I took my boyfriend and my sister’s dog out for a walk to my favourite spot, overlooking our valley, breathing in the sea-salt-tainted air. It felt good to be here. I started to remember how much I liked wandering off alone, a habit that got squashed by the combination of depression and London. He and I also walked along the beachfront, and my small family drove to my favourite riverside walk in North Wales. Revisiting these places with a new me who felt much more whole made a huge difference. I could appreciate them. I could feel happiness to be in these physical places again, and happiness in reliving good memories.
It’s an odd thing to realise that you’ve been frightened of a past long gone being embodied by a whole half a country. But I suppose that’s the thought process I’ve been occupied with. I feel like this journey home helped me let go of some of that fear. I feel lighter now that I’m not holding onto that painful fright, which weighed me down and kept me away.
I will go back again soon.