The thing about really, really living and being close to the tenuous grip we all have (but so seldom acknowledge) on life is that just the other side of that fine line is death.

This last week or so we have been reminded of that on more than one occasion. It’s been the anniversary of a very poignant short life within a family of our close friends, we have lost nearly half of the litter of piglets, various birds nests have been robbed of eggs by the ravens and crows who seem to constantly circle the skies above Croft 3.

The really life-rocking happening this week though was the loss of one of Rum’s longest residents. Probably the first person to shake our hands and take a bit of responsibility for introducing us around the community. A stalwart regular down at the shop, drink in hand from early in the day. A regular every single Saturday morning when I am doing post office. Someone who brought me toasted sandwiches, little samples of a curry or a new pie he had been experimenting with (he was a chef). Most recently he had taken delivery of a parcel from his brother containing goodies from the local Asian supermarket and he brought along a couple of packs of prawn crackers, some super hot chilli peppers and a little tub of garam masala that he had made himself with his spice grinder. Someone who shared stories with me about Life Before Rum, told me tales of himself as a young man, a husband, a brother, a small boy being a son. Someone who’s life touched ours on a daily basis and who made up the rich tapestry that is Rum and the folk who life here, interconnected, interwoven, coexisting and codependent.

The shockwaves have rippled around our small community and beyond. Once we knew his family had been informed modern life allowed us to spread the sad news by way of social media ensuring that regular visitors, ex-residents and other friends of Rum were told the news. We saw his body off gathered at the pierside, lit a firework to send his least favoured culinary herb into the sky with a flash of light, shared memories and toasted him late into the evening. Practical matters were dealt with, shoulders were offered to cry on, various folk were strong while others crumbled and then roles were reversed as the news sunk in and the strong ones needed a hug themselves. Many of us have spoken to his family on the phone over the last few days – a strange link with where he came from and those who have always known him to those of us who knew him every day.

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