Last month I went to the funeral of a man who interviewed me for a job many years ago. He offered me a test consultant position on the spot despite my glaring lack of experience in software testing in general and the banking sector in particular. A few months later the company employed a similarly clueless Australian with an inexcusable haircut and an endearing smile. On close inspection the Australian turned out to be South African, and in due course became my husband. Being prone to unprovoked bombastic rhetoric, I have frequently thought of Paul as the man who shaped my destiny and gave me the gift of my future family.  Viewed from this angle, Paul was one of the people who made all the difference.

And now was time for the last goodbye. Travelling to the service, I was apprehensive. I had not seen Paul for years, and I did not know Paul’s family at all. Paul died too soon, at the age when his wife and children had every right to look forward to many more years with him, and I feared, as an employee from long time ago I would be an intruder and an unwelcome witness to their grief. I was fully aware that whilst Paul’s impact on my life could not be overstated, my impact on his life hovered somewhere between infinitesimal and non-existent.

I needn’t have worried. Celebrations of life do not come any more powerful than this.

Sadness tried, relentlessly, to force its way in throughout the day, but we were having none of it. Voices trembled, but they recovered. Tears welled up, but they were wiped away. We were all guided by ‘what Paul would have wanted’, and it was beautiful and moving, unbearably so at times.

Paul was an exceptional guy. It was clear from today’s turnout and from everything that was said that he inspired a lot of people to do something with their lives. He nudged them, encouraged them,  gave them advice, gave them chances, and if nothing else worked, he bribed them to do well. I walked away from the service being inspired by Paul all over again. His optimism, his love of life and people, his effervescence.

I wish I could do something for Paul. There is, of course, nothing, and that sucks.
One thing for sure though; I will be willing Spurs, his team, to win the bloody League every season from now on.

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