This week had me thinking about gratitude.
Some will know that the loss of a friend, just as this year was unfurling from a festivities-fuelled chrysalis into the full spectacle of life, brought with it a strengthened sense of connection with my friend’s legacy, her son Olly.
Rapidly turning from the boy I would read and feed inordinate amounts of sweets to, into a young man whose grief is
It was Olly’s wish that there should be a memorial to his mother; a bench at Inner Temple Gardens – a carefully tended patch of green and quiet in the midst of the idiosyncratic little enclave of history where Allie and I took our first steps into the legal profession, the Bar, that brought us into each other’s world.
It was this wish, expressed at a time of tears, that resonated with me.
The loss of the presence of a spirit leading to the longing for a physical reminder.
Justgiving.com in fact
Was the route.
Nothing novel about it, but although I have been involved in fundraising for a big charity before, it involved ball gowns and glamour.
This was different.
The request written.
Then, I waited.
The willingness of the many
Brought warmth to the cold of the
aftermath of pain.
I would look at my page after every notification email arrived.
Generosity came from all quarters;
Those who knew Allie,
Those who didn’t.
Those who chose to write a few words.
Those who stayed silent.
Anonymous and silent.
As I tried to thank all those I could, I began to think not only of the gratitude of the recipient, when something is given to them, but also of the giving itself and what giving brings.
As ever, language fascinates me; different languages allow for different emotions to attach to an act.
‘Welcome’, the standard English response to being thanked, acknowledges the act of the giver.
The German ‘gerne’ – gladly, willingly, goes a little further perhaps to appreciate how rewarding giving can be.
I’ve always liked the Spanish ‘de nada’ – ‘for nothing’.
The giver releases that which they gave.
It is no longer a part of them.
They have let go.
The thing that was given – an effort, an object, time, emotion, concern, a physical touch – has been passed to another.
In the great cycle that makes all things one.
My target was tripled in days.
And my heart,
swollen in grief,
exhaled with relief.
Unending thanks to all, known and unknown, who gave to make Olly’s wish a reality.
As of this week, Allie’s bench is in its place.
It’s been placed in the west side of the gardens,
where daily it will be kissed good night by the sun on its evening
journey to rest.