Looking to the sky

It’s common practice for people to over-dramatise their life. A slight inconvenience can become a major problem – then that inconvenience is overwritten by something bigger and the first one is soon forgotten. Sitting on the bus or in a doctor’s waiting room or wherever, you’ll often hear agitated conversation between people about how the window cleaner was an hour late or their new skirt has a hard-to-shift stain and how this is a pain in the hole. I’m as guilty of moaning about the mundane as anyone else – but it all fell in to perspective last week.

A young man that our whole family have known since he was a child, was tragically killed in a motorcycle crash about a mile from our house, and only a couple of hundred feet from his own. Rob was 25.

My brother, Ian, went to school with Rob and subsequently he spent years of afternoons becoming a part of the furniture in our house. Even though I’m over five years older than Ian, as we got older our two ‘gangs’ merged and we were all very close growing up for a number of years. I hadn’t seen Rob for a good while until January 2004 when I bumped in to him in a pub. He now stood at well over six feet, built like a Sherman tank. I must have been talking to the guy about rock music and his tattoos for about an hour.

Every few months after that I bumped in to Rob in the same bar. If you didn’t know Rob he may have seemed intimidating – his foreboding size, rocker appearance and attitude made him stand out and he might have seemed a bit fierce and unapproachable. But the guy was as sweet as a nut, friendly, funny and very likeable.

The news of his untimely death last weekend sticks in the throat. It’s hard to even make sense of writing the sentence out and digesting just what it means in real terms. Tragedy occurrs somewhere everyday, maybe even every hour, or every minute if you pay any attention to what Bob Geldof and Bono tell us. The cricket score of deaths from Iraq every day tends to flush over us as we wrestle with the washing up but each one of those deaths represent loss, grief and a lifetime of agony for many people.

I did so much head-shaking last week at Rob’s funeral, that I’m surprised it didn’t fall off my shoulders. Meeting his family one-by-one and doing the routine hand-shake/hug, I felt like I was doing it for me as much as doing it for them. Nobody likes to feel helpless in life and there are few situations you feel more helpless than after the death of someone. The only little gesture we have is that hand-shake, a few tears, a card. I wouldn’t say it’s useless but it’s not going to pull up trees.

But we all realise that in life. Rob’s family know that everyone is well-meaning and genuinely is devestated by what has happened. So they take what they can from the gestures and move on to the next minute, which will be as hard if not harder than the last one.

For my part, all I could do was write a little something. I’m not a musician or anything but I got a gentle tune in my head and I put a few words to it. And each one of them is for Rob.

Taken away
Didn’t have a say
Don’t ask ‘where to now?’
That decision is made

Split second
I believe in heaven
Now just need a hand
To get myself livin’

All I got is my belief
A velvet cushion for my grief

Look to the sky
Search for the star
I hope that it’s you
So you’re never too far

Seems to be
A constant need
To look to the past
And to the future, dream

Though time persists
The future don’t exist
Until we get there
It’s where you’ll be missed

All I got is my belief
A velvet cushion for my grief

Look to the sky
Search for the star
I hope that it’s you
So you’re never too far

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