When someone’s journey ends

I have travelled much further along my Journey than my blog shows; I just could not keep up with my posts.   I eventually decided to not let that worry me. In the words of the now famous Disney song I “Let It Go” – which I am learning is a very healthy state of mind to have.   I journeyed right across the north coast of Spain, having many discoveries and life lessons along the way, until I reached Santiago de Compostela which was the highpoint of the journey and where I now realise I was meant to go all along. I then turned south and travelled down through Portugal.

As I have been journeying one of my dearest fans has been my father who awaited each post with great interest and kept telling me how very much he was enjoying my photographs.

When I arrived in Coimbra I heard that Dad had died very suddenly and unexpectedly. No warning. No preparation. No last goodbyes.

He was a man who filled a big space both in a room and in people’s hearts. Constantly good humoured and kindly, he had the gifts of seeing the funny side of life and making people laugh about it with him. He always counted his blessings quite naturally, without trying, and rarely complained. He was also totally incapable of saying a bad word about anyone. His was a life force people wanted to be around because his happiness was infectious and his tranquillity was calming.

When a being fills a big space he leaves a large hole when he parts from you.  As a family we have been feeling the depth and width of that empty place where he once was.   Especially my mother of course.

I have been surprised, though, at the pleasant emotions I have also had. I have been feeling grateful for the privilege of having had this man in my life at all, even more so as my father. I have been smiling at all the happy memories he made for me, to keep, for ever. When thinking of him I have often been joyful.

This reaction startled me. I now know that sorrow and joy are intricately linked rather than direct opposites.   We grieve precisely because that person brought so much to our lives. The feeling of loss is in direct proportion to the amount of joy they gave you.

We were shown some poems that we could read at Dad’s funeral and one simple one below called “He is gone” sums up how I have felt at times.

I will continue to write about my journey, and the places I visited. I hope to include some attractive photographs which would have pleased my father. Meanwhile, Dad, this one is for you. You embraced life – now rise in glory.


Looking out to sea on a cliff top near Santillana del Mar.

Looking out to sea on a cliff top near Santillana del Mar.


You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he’ll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of love that you have shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he’s gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

7 Responses to “When someone’s journey ends”
  1. vacicfam says:

    The loss of a parent is such a massive milestone and your response is marvellous. Another big step in your journey, I feel. You will never forget your dad; his loss will change you forever. I hope you continue to be at peace with his departure.

  2. Mark says:

    Perfectly befits the great man.

  3. Sonia says:

    Tonight my thoughts travel to you and I hope I can offer some small comfort. I found what you said about the ability to rejoice very warming and agree, that yes, there is so much to be grateful for. Here is a poem by a favourite of mine, Mary Oliver, saying things as only she knows how.


    I am in love with Ocean
    lifting her thousands of white hats
    in the chop of the storm,
    or lying smooth and blue, the
    loveliest bed in the world.
    In the personal life, there is
    always grief more than enough,
    a heart-load for each of us
    on the dusty road. I suppose
    there is a reason for this, so I will be
    patient, acquiescent. But I will live
    nowhere except here, by Ocean, trusting
    equally in all the blast and welcome
    of her sorrowless, salt self.

    Mary Oliver

  4. Tweenie says:

    What a wonderful tribute from a wonderful daughter. You are blessed. Brought a happy tear to my eye and I feel now you can move on. Xxx

  5. steve Hodgson says:

    We heard of Harry’s passing and it shook us to the core. You are absolutely right in what you say, he filled a room, and was always full of joy and happiness. It was only a few months back he was playing football and volleyball, not to mention the grass skirts! He will be sadly missed but as you so rightly say it was a real privilege to have known him. We will most certainly only have extremely fond memories of a great man. Sending love. xxx.

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