Monday, 13 October 2008

Laid to rest

Well all I can say is the past 48 hours have been surreal. From midnight Friday night when Stewart worsened to now has gone by in a haze.

I am grateful that we had the time to say how we felt about each other and I am grateful he didn't suffer for longer than he did, but I am so sad that he isn't here, he was truly my best friend.

He died in my arms, just the two of us, just as we had wanted. He managed to tell me he loved me during the night and told the kids that he loved them and always would when they visited early on Saturday morning. He had love surrounding him the whole time he was ill, but none more so than those last few hours.

The nursing staff at St Gemma's were amazing and gave us all the support we needed to get through those first few hours. Leaving him there was the hardest thing I have ever done, but getting into bed last night knowing he would never be there again was so difficult.

My children have amazed me with their maturity and care and their promise to be there for me.

The funeral was held today (we bury our dead within 24 hours) and I had requested that the hearse brought Stewart home before we set off for the funeral. We then went to the synagogue where there must have been 100 people, but nothing could have prepared me for the number of people at the funeral at the cemetery. It is estimated there were between 400 - 500 people, I have to admit I didn't realise we knew that many people. Not only were. all our family and friends here - some travelling from the other ends of the country but all the clergy from Leeds were there - and between them all they took the service, something I have never seen done in all my years and truly a great honour. The honour continued when Stewart was lowered to his final resting place by four Rabbis - again something that only ever happens for other members of the clergy. Our sons recited loud and clear the mourners prayer at the grave side, so heartbreaking to watch them aged 17 and 14 having to do this. It took over 1 1/2 hours for the mourners to file through the hall to pass their condolences on to us, something that usually only takes 20 minutes tops.

Tonight was our one night of "shiva" - prayers as tomorrow night is a festival which cancels out the other 6 days. To sit in my sisters house, which to be honest is fairly large, and to watch the queue of people up the driveway and down the road waiting to come in and pay their respects was overwhelming. Not only did we fill the house with people, including the kitchen, but also the garden, the driveway and partially the pavement outside. People came from all over but to see the support the kids had, especially Jamie whose friends all came over from Manchester was amazing. Even three of the Rabbi's that were on the trip he took in the Summer were there. Mind blowing is all I can say.

The prayers were recited by my dad, one of the clergy who is like an uncle to me (his eldest daughter is one of my oldest (not age but in long standing) friends, and a speech given by the Rabbi I work with was amazing. The speech was so spot on, Rabbi Levy had Stewart down to a tee, his words were moving and funny and he even made a point of talking directly to Gemma at one point to connect with her - he also lost his mother aged 9 - all of which made an amazing speech in memory of my darling husband. No one could ask for more.

I have to say that the emails of comments from here, emails from UKsers, my amazing and wonderful family and friends have given us all strength, but to see so many people come to pay their last respects is mind blowing. As I said to Alex, when we are down we have to think of today and be proud that the man who obviously touched so many people was our daddy and my husband and we are the lucky ones to have been part of his life.

Stewart was a large man, in stature and in size but he was a true gentle giant. I have heard things about him in the last 24 hours that I never knew and I am so proud to have him choose me as his wife and to have spent the last 20 years with him.

I will be at my sisters for the next week so that visitors can call and prayers (without the memorial bit added) can be said so that the boys can continue to say the mourners prayers (which they are required to do every day for a year) in the comfort of family and friends before stretching out to the synagogue with all it's members.

Once again thank you for your supportive and warming messages. I am a lucky lady, not just because I have shared my life with someone so special, but because of all of you.


Hayley & Martyn said...

Susy - your strength is amazing. Martyn and I are thinking of you and your family and are glad you have such great support.

My heart goes out to you and I'm giving you huge virtual hugs.


Rachel Culhane said...

It would seem your husband was an exceptional man. You must be so proud and may that give you strength at this time of mourning.

Rachel C from UKS xxx

jo said...

Your husband was obviously well loved and well thought of in your commumity- this must give you and your family such strength to get through this.

Silverst170 Aka Tina said...

I am glad you had the time to say what you needed too.
And also Glad Stewart is no longer suffering.
Just think of all the good time and cherish your memories forever, they will never leave your heart.
Love always

Tina xx

Debbie said...

You're strength has been amazing. I'm so glad you were able to say the things you wanted to each other. I hope in the days to come you can take comfort from the fact that Stewart was clearly a very special man who touched the lives of so many.

Although I do not know you I'm sending out a big cyber hug. My thoughts will continue to be with you.

Debbie (UKS)

Jackie said...

You are one amazing lady who must have had an amazing husband. Your children must be a credit to you.

I am thinking of you at this very sad time.

Anonymous said...

Suzy - I know you don't know me but through your blog I feel like you are a now a friend. You must be so proud not only of Stewart, who was obviously very much loved and respected, but of your incredible family.
You have put all my problems into perspective and I now count my blessings.
Thankyou for sharing your very sad story with us. I will continue to pop into your blog as you carry on lifes sometimes tortuous path.
Take all the help that is offered, you don't have to do it alone.
love and hugs
June (UKS)xxx

Tash said...

Susy - your Stewart was obviously an amazing man who touched many hearts and lives. Your children are also clearly a credit to both of you. Stay strong my dear - thinking of you lots.

Anonymous said...


When everything’s black with no traces of white
When everything’s wrong and nothing seems right

Close your eyes gently, tilt your head to the sky
Dismiss woes and troubles, ask not how or why

Take solace and comfort from those close and near
Reflect on good memories that start to appear

The pain and the hurting will ease a little each day
Not now or tomorrow but in its own way

As the leaves on the trees meet their roots in the ground
You will be standing there quietly not making a sound

Your thoughts and your memories are so precious to keep
Locked away safely to recall on and weep

Smile through the tears for it is for the best
That your dear husband Stewart is now peacefully at rest.

By Skye
13 October 2008

From Skye UKS

Charlotte said...

You must be so proud of your darling Stewart and how he touched so many lives.
You've all touched mine and I don't even know you.
Sending you lots more strength in the coming days and weeks.
Rachel (rach2705 on UKS)

Anonymous said...

Stuart must have been an exceptional man.

I hope that you and your children can take comfort from the love shown by so many people.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers xxx

Maria - UKS

hotpotato said...

Hugs to you and your family as you now start a new chapter in you lives, may life be kinder to you and may your memories never fade....Love Janina xx

Mrs Hedgehog said...

I only met Stewart twice and then only briefly but it was obvious that the love you had for him was as strong as the love he had for you.
Keep that in your heart.
You are one amazing lady who found her man and cherished him. Not everyone is as lucky as you.
Your children will continue to grow and flourish in the knowledge that they were created in love and will always have that love to surround them.
My thoughts are with you all at this time. And I know you will have heard this time and again but if there is anything I can do ask. Even if you think it is absolutely stupid. I can do that!!!

Love you Lxx and Mr H.

GlitteryKatie said...

Susy I'm so sorry your time withyour DH was cut shoty like this-It's wonderful to hear ho your Synagog and friends/family have supported you.
God bless you and you children

Claire said...

You are truly an amazing woman Suzy. I dont think I could have such stength as you at a time like this - I think I would just breakdown and me useless to anyone.

So glad to read that you had your special times together near the end and that you were with him when he died.

More love hugs and continued strength to you and the children.

Claire X

Eileen said...

Susy, you, and your family, are truly inspiring. You have stood up and faced each new challenge, including Stewart's death, with love and pride, and rightful confidence in your wonderful family. That Stewart was an exceptional man is clear, especially from the community response to his passing - but behind every exceptional man is an even more exceptional family. Similarly, you have amazing children, but they go to be amazing by following the example of their even more amazing parents.

Skye's poem says so much; you need your happy memories, and you have many, and all made the effort to make extra special memories at the end. Stewart was so desperately unlucky to have such a terrible disease, but he was also lucky to die in the arms of the woman he loved so much.

He is at peace, and I pray that some of his peace will touch your soul, and give your strength.

You are, of course, still in my thoughts and prayers. xx

Annette said...

Stewart was obviously an exceptional man - and you are an exceptional woman - to have coped so well with everything that has been thrown at you in such a short time.

Stay strong - it will be difficult at times but remember you are loved by your family and friends.


Ruth said...

It would seem that others also recognised Stewart as an amazing husband and father and I pray that will be a comfort to you in the days and months ahead.

Alison (AliBlack, UKS) said...

Thinking of you Susy, it is good to know you have so much support.
Happy memories and love stay alive in our hearts forever. xxx

Anonymous said...

My thoughts and love are sent to you and your family Susy. I'm glad you are surrounded by such love at this time. xxx

(Poohbear UKS)

Trina said...

Susy it sounds like you had an amazing day and a fitting send off for Stewart. I'm sorry I never got to meet him, but he was obviously a special man and you are a very special woman.

As always if you need anything at all, you know where I am.

Love and cuddles from Trina, Dave & Chloe xx

gwyneth said...

My thought and prayers are with you Susy and the children at this sad time in all your lives. May you have strength & love to carry you through the days and yes, years ahead and may the memories that you will all hold so dear bring you great comfort. Take care.

daydreamer said...

I don't know what to say that hasn't been said already, my thoughts & prayers are with you all at this difficult time, & i want to say that i admire your strength & courage through all of what you have endured. God bless your husband Stewart, & may he rest in peace, he sounds like he was a wonderful man. love Rachel xxx