I hope you'll indulge me to allow me to share my memories of the day of Elodie's funeral, while they are still fresh.
Yesterday was one of the saddest days of my life (and I've had a few contenders in recent years). Having said that, it was also quite beautiful.
It started with a message from my sister to tell me she loved me. Not a bad start to the day and probably unique. I then realised that the article in Liverpool Echo had been published. It wasn't exactly what I'd hoped for but it achieved some of my aims- to tell people a little about our Elle, to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to try to help out Claire House.
As the day went on and the time the car would arrive came thundering toward me, I must admit feeling a little dread. "I don't know if I want to do this", "I'm not sure I'm ready for this". I decided to spend a few minutes in Elodie's room. The peace of that space and the memory of Elodie's resilience helped to put me back on track.
After putting on our nice togs and brushing our hair, Beckie and I agreed that Elodie would approve of our appearance but also agreed that she would have asked why we couldn't put the same amount of effort in more regularly :-) .
The family arrived, all decked out in pink, with pink balloons flying from the cars. We could also see neighbours coming out of their houses to pay their respects and show support. Elodie would have been concerned to see her little, doggy neighbour, Lilly, getting so wet in the rain.
The car arrived and we went outside to meet it and the amazing Funeral Director, Loraine, who had made sure that none of our requests had seemed like too much trouble. She told us that the florist had spent 4 hours decorating the casket. The white casket was truly beautiful, adorned with waves of pink roses. She would have approved.
After some tears and knee wobbles we set off to follow Elodie's car, surrounded by crowds of friends and neighbours. We were amazed and uplifted by the number of people who had braved the awful weather to say goodbye to Elle and by the number of pink balloons, ribbons and signs which marked our journey. All in our car were overcome with emotion but managed a few smiles and waves to some of the familiar and unfamiliar faces which had come out to show that they cared and that Elodie had meant something to them.
I don't think we were really prepared for the sight which greeted us as we passed Elodie and Maddie's primary school, St Berts', as pupils, parents and teachers stood outside holding massive pink hearts, spelling out her name. Elodie LOVED St Berts and floods of memories came back to me as we passed the school building and some of the school staff that had treated her so well and had meant such a great deal to her.
We tried to pull ourselves together as we followed Elodie's car to her high school, Sandymoor OA. Again crowds of socially-distanced pink ornamented the streets. As the cars drew up alongside the school, any chance of any one of us keeping it together disappeared as sustained applause surrounded Elodie and her family. Elodie's name was spelt out in 6 foot high letters on a pink sign. and it wasn't wasted on me that this was displayed in the office window. The staff in the Sandymoor office always went out of their way to greet Elodie in the morning and to tell me how much they loved and respected her. It's always nice to hear that from other people.
The third crowd of people met us at the crematorium- masses of (socially-distanced) people who had gone out of their way to travel to the crem, just to show their support and care.
We followed the beautiful casket into the hall, the family propping each other up on the way. We had been a little worried that the service might have been a little sterile or not able to capture the essence of our Elle. We needn't have worried. Yvonne, who conducted the service, did so with great care and empathy and the eulogy was exactly what we had hoped for.
I had lost control of my tears and the pain in my chest, before Sunshine on Leith began and it was all I could due to hold Beckie's hand as we watched a few pictures from our life.
Leaving her casket was easier than I thought it might be, as Yvonne gave us a timely reminder that this was simply Elodie's physical body and that she was elsewhere.
We ended the occasion by saying some quick hellos to the people who had joined us and letting off some of the less damaged pink balloons, as a symbol of Elle's released spirit.
I am sorry if anyone was upset or put out by me not spending more time with people or for not giving hugs after the service. I did not want anyone to become ill as a consequence of her day and I comfort myself with the certain knowledge that she would have been far more strident about it than I was.
To everyone involved in marking Elodie's life and in making this day what she would have wanted, thank you. We all did her proud!
Much love cx