This time on 17th February last year I had just arrived in Glasgow after a long drive up the A77 and M77 from Cairnryan and the 3.30 ferry from Belfast, and was looking forward to the pancakes that Holly McGuigan was making for me on my way to the Marie Curie hospice in Edinburgh to join Derek, Tom, Joanne, Christine, Robert and the rest of the family in their vigil for Louise.
I remember driving Jo and her dad back to Balerno manse, and the phone call we got from Christine as we joined the City Bypass just before 1pm to say we’d lost Louise. I remember how I texted my friends. I remember the three weeks we spent in Scotland staying at our friends Neil and Anne’s house and just being present with Derek and Tom. I remember the videos that Louise made. I remember the hordes who came to her memorial service to give thanks and to mourn.
I could say many things. Today is a day when the family will remember together, whether in Scotland or Northern Ireland, and we will be there for each other. We will stand with friends. We will remember Louise and we will give thanks, and support each other.
Jo and I will spend a little time in the church she served, with members of the church and community dropping in and out. Tonight we will all remember Louise over dinner, whether in Balerno or Ballyclare.
Jo’s and my wedding anniversary will always be linked to losing the woman who so joyously married us, at last getting to wear a bridesmaid’s dress instead of her ministerial robes, and who encouraged us on our way throughout.
Louise wanted us to remember her and live. “Run for me, dance for me, think of me.”
I’ll not be running with these knees today. It isn’t a day for dancing, but I can remember the Robinson girls dancing together. I can remember her and her love for Derek, Tom, family, friends, congregation and God.
And I will remember God walking with us through the darkness and pain. The reality of his presence. How he comforts those who mourn and binds up the broken-hearted. How we are not alone, no matter how difficult it is to see that when we are hurting.
And I will remember that imperfect humans like me still need human reminders that they matter and are cared for – and that is this week’s job in the midst of sorrow and pain.