I wanted to say a few words to thank everyone for the kind messages of condolences, support and love. Thank you, you’ve helped to make the unbearable a bit less unbearable. I’d also like to thank all the staff in Lightburn Hospital for their genuine care and concern which went over and above the highly professional treatment they gave Andy. They made me feel that he was safe, and they made me feel that he was looked after. They treated him with respect, and they ensured that he preserved his dignity. I will always be grateful to them.
Andy’s passing was peaceful. He died without regrets, without bitterness, and knowing he was loved. It was a good death, as good as a death can be. The hospital phoned just after seven on Wednesday morning to say that he was deteriorating fast, and they didn’t think there was long to go. I got to the hospital before eight. He was no longer able to speak, and his breathing was shallow and laboured, but he knew I was there. I opened the curtains so he could see the sky and sat with him holding his hand. I talked to him about the good times we’d had together. I told him that I loved him and always would carry him in my heart – but that I wanted him to let go and not to worry about me and the dug.
Then I said that all those years ago when we first met, I was living in Easterhouse, just up the road from Lightburn Hospital. We met, we fell in love, and he took me away on a great adventure. And then he brought me back home again. Everything comes full circle. At that he breathed his last and slipped away, his eyes on the morning sky above Glasgow, his hand in mine.
The world dissolved in tears.
While the hospital prepared some paperwork I went outside to smoke a ciggy, frazzled, tearful, standing under a tree outside the hospital on Carntyne Road. An early autumn leaf gently fell from the tree as I stood there, and landed on my shoulder. It was his last wee gift to me, a reminder of the cycle of life. All things must pass, so new life can grow.
I picked up the leaf and carefully put it in my wallet. When I got home I pressed it between the pages of the White Paper on Independence, a talisman for the future, a token of hope, golden with potential like Andy.
I will bury his ashes in a special place, and plant a rowan tree. In Celtic myth the rowan tree was the protector against evil spirits, the guardian and protector. Andy the London polisman will grow into a rowan tree, and will guard and protect us all.
When he told me, many years ago, that’s what he wanted, I laughed and said – “Once a polis always a polis then eh.” And he smiled that wee smile. The smile I’m always going to miss.
The funeral will be held at Daldowie Crematorium on Saturday 13 September at midday. It will be a pagan ceremony and Andy doesn’t want people to dress in mourning black. He wanted this to be a celebration of life. It was only on reading all the wonderful comments, messages, and tweets of love and support, that I realised just how much Andy’s story has touched people and connected with them. If you felt a connection with him, you will be welcome.
Please don’t send flowers, instead make a donation to Maryhill Foodbank. Cut flowers wilt and die, but a gift to the foodbank is a gift of nourishment and strength. Andy would have preferred that.