Thursday, 17 November 2011

The first conversation I had after I learned that my brother had died.

I am sharing this because my dearly loved, unique, eccentric brother would have liked this story. I can hear his laughter as I write.

I was in Oakengates, Telford for a theatre performance which I learned, on arrival, had been cancelled. I had about 40 minutes until the next train for Wolverhampton so I decided to look for somewhere to have a bite of lunch. This was no mean feat in Oakengates but I eventually located a likely looking cafe and was walking towards the door when my phone rang. 

As soon as I saw it was my sister's number I knew what the call would be, and had little choice but to take it there in the street. She told me that Andrew had died. 
We knew he was terminally ill (he'd been in hospital over the weekend) but until three days before we'd all thought that he'd be with us for a while yet. We hadn't adjusted to the new timetable, had not enough time to prepare, but then again, is there ever enough time? 
My sister and I spoke for a few minutes and to be honest I'm not sure what was said by either of us. As the call ended I put my phone into my bag, took a deep breath, and walked into the cafe.

I looked at the menu, walked to the counter and asked if I could have scrambled eggs on toast.
"and could I have mushrooms with that, please?" 

 "Yes..." said the lady behind the counter.
 So far so good.

"...and do you want brown bread, or white?" 

I burst into tears.

"Oh, sorry," she said, 
"perhaps I shouldn't have asked"

I apologised but was quite unable to tell her why I was crying.

There is now a woman in Telford telling people about the strange customer she had in the cafe who obviously needs help with her bread issues.


  1. So sorry to hear of your loss.

    We never know exactly how we'll react to such awful news. My dearest friend died in January. I took the news calmly, from his son. But when I called my daughter to tell her, I broke down and couldn't speak. Five minutes later, I was composed.

  2. Thank you Martin. It's always a strange time, with the ordinary tinged with a sense of unreality, like the yellow light that seeps around the edges of dark grey thunderclouds.

  3. Jane, I've only just discovered this and I have to say I laughed out loud as I got to the end. It's perhaps a good thing that I am late, it might have seemed insensitive had I wrote this at the time.
    There is no easy way to console anyone who has lost someone close to them. 'Think of the good times' is becoming a cliche.

  4. Thank you Roger. I'm glad you laughed, I wrote this three days after the event and it made me laugh too. My brother would have howled.