Saturday, 23 June 2012

Yaeson

I went to Yaeson's funeral in Cardiff yesterday. It rained. Her father Steve and her daughter Remi spoke movingly at her funeral service and the rest of us brought homemade cake and sandwiches to the wake and otherwise stood around feeling helpless and crying. Her mother, father, brother, sister and daughter were heart-broken, as were her friends and family.

Yaeson was my daughter's cousin, but closer to my age than Lauren's. She used to come and stay with us in London when Lauren was a baby and she was about seventeen years old and just starting out as a model. I was very fond of her, though I hadn't seen much of her in recent years. Lauren used to go and stay with her cousins often when she was a child. Her aunt Jill used to look after her as she looks after everyone - whether family members, friends or the children of friends - with a special mixture of kindness and good cooking, and infinite patience and good humour.

Lauren remembers trips to buy milkshakes with her cousins Lewys and Lloyd and Yaeson's husband, who was also called Steve, and long happy afternoons in the garden and philosophical chats with Lewys when they were tucked up in bed at night. Her cousins passed down their clothes to her and passed on whatever knowledge they had. Among other things, Lewys taught her the nine times table. One afternoon, Lauren says, she and Lewys spent the day in Jill and Steve's garden playing a game that explored the difference between 'being invincible' and 'being invisible'.

Later we'd see Yaeson when she made trips to London to stay at Lauren's dad's house (she was his niece and they were close to each other), and when she worked on his TV show in Cardiff, and then we didn't see her again until the end of last year, at a family party at my other sister-in-law's house.

Though Yaeson was beautiful she was also funny and very sweet. And as her daughter Remi put it so aptly in her lovely speech at the funeral, she was mischievous. She was a natural storyteller, with a gift for recounting any incident and making it funny, self-deprecating and absurd. Actually, plenty of absurd things had happened to her, particularly when she worked as a model. The last time I saw her, just before Christmas, she talked about trying to write everything down and making a book out of it. I said I'd help her if I could. Of course that won't happen now. But Yaeson was one of those chaotic innocents who couldn't leave the house for twenty minutes without something extraordinary happening to her that would turn into a funny story.  If those stories won't make it into a book, at least they'll be recounted time and again as they pass into family myth.

One of the songs played at Yaeson's funeral was Remember Me by Diana Ross. It was also played at my mother-in-law's funeral and 'Remember me as a sunny day' is on my mother-in-law's headstone. Driving back from Yaeson's funeral with Lauren and my sister-in-law, Leanne, we pretty much agreed that we should all have that inscription on our grave. At funerals, you grieve for the people left behind and then you ask yourself if there's anything to be learned from the other person's life. So... I came away thinking I need to make sure I have enough sunny days in my life for people to remember me by. And I need to take more photos. There are never enough photos. Your camera stays in your handbag and you always think you'll see the other person at least one more time. And one day you won't.