I stared at the funeral director.
I know you.
I was in a grave yard, on my 32nd birthday, saying one final goodbye to my Grandmother, my soul mate, but…
I know you. How do I know you?
Her lips continued to move and I continued to stare.
If the pimple like mole on her face wasn’t enough to have me convinced, the husky tones in which she clothed her words confirmed it.
I know you!
I turned to my two aunties, both grieving the loss of their Mother, and asked the question. A family friend maybe?
‘No,’ they said. ‘She’s just the funeral director,’ they said.
But I know her.
Obviously the only thing for it was to swallow my pride and ask her.
The name Ashleigh was coming to mind. But how could I remember her name when I hadn’t the foggiest idea where she came from? The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it all seemed. This was clearly a moment of pure madness. Insanity, driven by mourning and fuelled by the sludge that numbed my mind.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when she looked at me as though I’d just slapped her across the face. But I was.
Oh no. She thinks I’m telling her off.
All I said was, ‘Excuse me, what is your name? Because I think I know you.’
When she said her name was Ashleigh, I didn’t quite know how to react. I think I was hoping that she would say her name was Elizabeth, or Jane or Harold, even. Just so that I didn’t look like the arsehole that had forgotten who she was.
I did know her.
And as it turned out, she knew me too.
I was relieved to find that each of us was as clueless as the other. We knew that we had been acquainted at some point, but we did not know how.
She rattled off some options.
No, that’s not it either.
No, I’ve never been there.
And just as though I had been struck by some kind of blast from the past, it came to me.
‘Car leasing?’ I asked, my face blank with concentration.
‘That’s it,’ she said. ‘I was in sales, you were in customer service.’
And that was it.
I knew her. She knew me.
Not only did I know her, but I remembered her now.
She was nice. She was really, really nice. And, with my family, she had planned every detail of my beautiful old girl’s farewell party.
I knew her and she was good.
I threw my rose into the open grave and whispered, ‘Nan, I love you.’ Then I looked up and thanked whoever it was that had taken Ashleigh from a career in car sales and randomly placed her kind heart in the funeral business.
Because I needed to know that my Nan was looked after right up to the very end.
And indeed, she was.