Yesterday we made a pilgrimage to see Andy's tree. Brian-next-door kindly drove us over, as it is some distance away in the heart of the Shropshire hills. Set in ancient woodland, the South Shropshire Remembrance Park is the most peaceful and tranquil place - beautiful even in the rain.
It's been just over three years since Andy's ashes were laid to rest under a silver birch tree sapling. It has grown considerably since them, which considering how tall Andy was, is appropriate. The little glade where his tree is situated is up on a wooded hill. Joe and I made our way there while Brian waited in the car park, to give us some privacy.
I'd brought some things to tidy up with and the first thing I did was to give his stone a good scrubbing, and remove the moss which grows so quickly. On my hands and knees, in the muddy grass, in the rain. Because it is the only and last thing I can do for him. And it still doesn't feel like enough. I don't think it ever will.
We'd brought a bottle of his favourite beer.
Which I poured on his tree roots, with a little salutation to 'the big man'.
It was Joe's first visit and although it was sad, we both found it less painful than anticipated. And will be coming back again, soon.
Then the heavens really opened up to a deluge. We headed back as quickly as possible, to the car, soaked to the skin.
Brian took us home via the 'scenic route'. Little twisty Shropshire lanes, which, as we found, were flash flooded. This is why a 4x4 is useful in the countryside.
With Brian's careful driving, we negotiated the small rivers that covered the lanes for long stretches.
Some readers may wonder how I could take photographs during such a difficult and personal time, and share it so publicly. Well, Andy was always part of this blog. Taking photos, writing about it, and recording it helps me to sort things out in my head and makes it all seem a little less weird and messed up. Just a little.