The funeral service itself was a celebration of a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend and mentor to many people. I had the privilege to listen to a wonderful eulogy, some moving tributes and speak with many people afterwards.
I also sang the Schubert Ave Maria and Lloyd-Webber Pie Jesu, as solos. "You made the hairs on my neck stand up- you were wonderful", "thank you for adding so much to the service"; these were just a couple of the comments made to me after the church service.
And that's when the fun began. I had travelled by train and tube up from Hampshire to North London, and so did not have transport to the cemetery for the next part of the service. The family wanted 'Abide with me' and 'Do not stand at my grave and weep' sung over the grave - fine, but how do I get there? No problem it had been arranged, a family member would give me a lift.
A 5 minute drive that in reality was nearly 20 mins. So yes we arrived late, eventually found a parking space, but no one knew where the grave actually was. We started to wander off to a spot and realised it was the wrong one. The cortège arrived after us (I still don't know how - they left well before us) but it helped us locate the right spot!.
I sing outside using a wireless speaker and backing tracks so I don't need much, just a space for my bag and speaker, so the mourners can hear the music to sing along with. The vicar cues me and off we go, and people started to join in the singing which was heartening. The grave diggers were somewhat taken aback; they don't get singers very often!
Whilst I sang 'Do not stand at my grave and weep', the family threw handfuls of earth in on the coffin, it was a very moving experience. With the sun shining and my voice soaring to the skies it was a fitting send off.
I'm really happy the family were pleased, the vicar loved it too, so we might get a few more requests if the same (mind you, as long as it stays fine - singing in the rain is not so pleasant!).