I think back to 14 August, standing in a wildflower burial meadow in Montgomeryshire, surrounded by the Welsh hills, where we had lived for so many years. It was the most beautiful day. Our two sons, our son-in-law and one grandson carried Derek’s coffin. Derek had chosen the hymns he wanted for his funeral which we couldn’t sing because of the virus, but we stood and listened. Many of us were in tears…

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you …Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ … the light of the world to you.

Derek and I were married for nearly 58 years. I’m 85 years old now and, gradually, I am sort of making a life for myself. There’s been a lot of sadness, but I have a great deal to be thankful for, especially my family.

My husband Derek moved into a nursing home last November to receive 24-hour care. I visited him every day, until the nursing home went into lockdown on 11 March. He became very ill over the summer and died on 31 July. As the nursing home was locked down, I couldn’t be there with him when he died. I was able to visit a few days earlier, and he tried to hold my hand, but I wasn’t allowed to get near to him. It has been very sad indeed.

I do get lonely, but I decided early in the lockdown that my job would be to telephone people on our church list who live alone, every ten days or so. Those friendships have helped me very much, and I hope I’ve helped them as well.

Derek was a Methodist minister, so church has been a big part of our lives. When Derek retired, we moved into a Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society (MMHS) home where we have lived for 28 years and were so very happy and comfortable. MMHS have been very helpful, they’ve handed the tenancy over to me now, so all is well.

My Christian faith has supported me through everything this year. I couldn’t have coped without God in my life. Every night when I go to bed, I say my prayers, and I always – always – feel reassured. That’s what the deep peace of Christ means: real reassurance that, even in times that are dark or sad or lonely, all will be well. I do believe that.

Meryl lives on the Wales-England border in a home owned by Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society. The hymn Meryl quotes is A Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter, 1978: Hinshaw.

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