It was a treasured seamlessly perfect, poignant day. A day when two ladies who had experienced and sadly completed the same ‘journey in life’ came together after five years of correspondence to meet at a little country station in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England. The oh so brave Susan wife of the late Dan Patterson from Colorado, came by rail from London with no working cell phone( having been informed it would work in the UK) and no means of contacting me should she become lost or miss her rail connections but thank goodness arriving safely at this small country station.
I had planned my journey carefully to make sure I was there at the station to meet Susan, no easy feat as living in a rural location and driving across country, it is often difficult to plan journey times precisely, as often you are caught behind a tractor slowing your journey to a snails pace and the weather conditions of late have brought some flooding to country locations. Still I was there in good time and asked the Station Master could I cross the little bridge and wait for my dear American friend whom I had never met before or even seen her face in a photo, but so wanted to be there to greet her on the platform as her train arrived from London. He was keen to oblige and smiled warmly at the lady wrapped up well against the chilling wind of this bright blue very exciting day, that “simply must be” on the platform to meet her American friend – he smiled the tired smile of some men when confronted with forceful requests – lucky I live in a country location – can you imagine getting on the platform at Charing Cross without a platform ticket!
I settled in the waiting room checking the neon overhead timetable every few moments excited but concerned that I would managed to find my far travelled friend. The train draw into the station perfectly on time ( thank you British Rail for not letting me down) and I held my breath as I searched the carriages for a lady similar age to me for that was all I knew ( you don’t really discuss hair colour when you are talking of grief do you?) and there, smiling the biggest smile was this supremely beautiful expectant face peering and waving out of the compartment window. Susan stepped onto the platform and straight into my arms – we hugged and hugged and smiled, laughed and cried all at once! We kept looking into each others faces and it was as if we had known each other for a lifetime!
I had wondered what we could do for the day that would make it a little different -for a short day – for a dear friend from the ‘other side of the pond’ and so I settled on a visit to the beautiful majestic Elizabethan house of “Burghley” that was just a short drive away. We needed a good setting for this memorable day, we also needed plenty of good coffee and a fine luncheon. So having left my car in the station car-park so wanting to focus my attention entirely on this lovely lady I arranged a taxi to and from this historic inspiring grand home of William Cecil the first Lord Burghley (1520-1598) and still the home of the Cecil family. I asked the taxi driver to please make a detour around the very attractive town of Stamford so my visitor may see the medieval core of 17th century stone buildings and some much older timber framed ones. He was happy to oblige of course seeming proud of this little town.
It was a chilly blowy day with a lazy bitter wind but blue skies prevailed across our green land and peaceful pastures. We spent time admiring the grounds and the beautiful façade of this great house with the gentle roaming deer and wonderful views of proud noble trees and even though in bleak winter the sun shone for us and the pastures held their green.
And so it goes that two woman that only found each other through great sadness and just because a boyhood friend of Dan Patterson’s who was saddened beyond belief with the thought that he was to lose his greatest companion, trolled the internet for understanding of the wretched disease of Multiple Myeloma. This rare illness that had befallen both our men and Dan’s kind friend who happened across my little blog of love poems that had insisted that Susan read of the trials and tribulations of another woman on the other side of the world, just like her, going through exactly the same sadness as her and her beloved Dan. Susan read my simple poems, came back again and again and the connection was made. Every so often over the years I would receive a comment from Susan and then the emails began and the bond was made. Just two woman from other sides of the world, coming together in their grief.
And so with much joy, many tears, and many many words, we had our delicious coffees together and a splendid luncheon in the pretty Orangery Restaurant at Burghley. Not moving from the restaurant for several hours – five in fact! So many private words were spoken, so many tears were shed. Such a lovely, beautiful lady cut down with this heart wrenching grief, having just lost her beloved Dan only five months before but with such utter bravery and desire to meet the friend who had tried to help and understood only too well the dreadful grief she was feeling now. It was like I had known Susan all my life, experienced all of her pain and understood everything about the fight to try and help her husband to live, the time of profound caring and her complete love for this good man. We talked and talked a mirrored image, back and forth in these beautiful surroundings, filling the hours completely. And so dear readers, yes it was just as it should have been, the sharing of grief, the understanding between two woman of all we had been through and just as we knew it would be our friendship was sealed…