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after my death it will rain roses

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Before submitting the following account, we send our heartfelt thanks to Shawn Squires and all who have helped him for his tireless work in creating this website which will be invaluable to all of us who grieve over the loss of our beautiful, precious Paul. This is going to be such a wonderful site to visit and think about the good times, the sad times and the fun times we have all experienced. Thank you Shawn from the bottom of our hearts. Christine and Matt.

During the week immediately prior to the day Paul died, our granddaughter Colette aged 13 years was on holiday in France with her school. When she returned, which was the day that Paul died, she had brought a bar of chocolate for her Papa - Matt and a picture of St. Theresa for myself - her Nana. We of course did not get the very sad news until the following day and Colette was concerned as to whether she should give me the picture because the quotation at the bottom said "After my death it will rain roses". She asked her Mum Beverley, my daughter, whether she should give it to me or not and Beverley reassured her that she should. Colette gave it to me and said "take it with you Nana to Vancouver because it will keep you safe and bring you a lot of comfort". Those words were the truest words Colette could have spoken and the roses began to rain almost immediately.

From the moment we arrived in Vancouver we were surrounded by a group of amazingly wonderful people, Paul's friends. There are no words to describe the comfort and the consolation that they surrounded us with. Grieving themselves, at the tragic and devastating loss of their precious friend, they were able to put it all to one side and totally take care of us. We will never forget them and will treasure their friendship for as long as we live. Pat Ruel, Tony Barnes and Paul Graham (PG from here-on in) were there to meet us at the airport and transport us to our hotel. These three we had met previously; Pat from the days when we lived in Windsor, PG from the days when Paul (Lolly to most of you) lived with PG in Vancouver, and Tony from a couple of years ago when the three of them and Paul came to England to see their precious Everton team.  Also we would hear about them all constantly during our very frequent telephone calls with Paul and we know he was very much looking forward to the wedding of PG and Sue when he was to be Best Man, the following weekend. If I were to write here all that these guys have done for us, I would be here forever. They were the best 'mates' (as Paul described them) that we could ever have wished for, for our son. He loved them all dearly and they and their wives were truly like family to Paul. On our arrival at the hotel, we were met by two other close friends of Paul; two soul-mates namely Sapna of whom Paul had spoken to us, frequently and lovingly over the past six or seven years. We knew he was extremely fond of Sapna for several years but their relationship had developed quite significantly just prior to his death. This must have been so devastating for her and certainly any further development with that relationship would have brought us sheer pleasure. The other was Denise (Couz) who had been in his life for what seemed like - ever. Couz and he went back to Windsor days and College days and they were indeed soul-mates or as Couz described herself - his  "soul-sister, joined at the hip".   We may have lost our precious Paul but he has left us with two precious roses. Sapna and Couz could not be any closer to us if they were our own daughters. We love them dearly and their support at that time and ever since has been constant and steadfast. The roses definitely started to rain immediately we came into contact with this amazing group of lovely people.

The roses continued to rain the day after we arrived in Vancouver when our closest friends for over 30 years Pat and John McLaughlin arrived at our hotel. This was totally unexpected as I was under the impression that they were in New York. Their daughter Hilary had recently relocated to New York and the day that they received the news they had already packed a truck with all her belongings, ready to drive there the following morning - Sunday. That Sunday they drove all the way from Windsor Ontario to New York and the following morning - Monday - they were on the first 'plane out of New York to Vancouver where they stayed with us for almost the whole of the time we were there. I will never forget the feeling that washed over me on seeing these dear and precious friends. Pat was truly a rose sent from Paul and I knew that he was with me.  Any attempt to put into words how much it meant to have Pat with me at that time would be totally inadequate.

Those of you who were with us in Vancouver know just how beautiful the Vigil on the Tuesday night was and the Requiem Mass on the Wednesday afternoon lead by Fr. Bernie McCosham, a Priest whom we had never met before but knew Paul so well.  Musicians joined Tom Landa and the Paperboys playing so flawlessly, music that they had never even heard of let alone played.  Our dear friend Pat McLaughlin sang the psalm and a friend of Paul whom we had never met before, Dr. Mike Byrne lead the singing. Graham McLellan the Piper played for the Final Commendation and Farewell and friends participated in so many ways, the Pall Bearers, the Words of Remembrance by Pat Ruel, readings and prayers delivered by close friends. None of this could have been accomplished so beautifully without practice or rehearsal in such a short time and under such terribly tragic circumstances without help from above. Paul's presence was everywhere. After Mass, we met the Dayal family. Shakeh and Mesh, Sapna's parents together with their other daughter Chantey and her husband John. We had never met this family before but they knew and loved Paul. Their kindness will never be forgotten and once again although Paul has gone, he has left a bond between our two families that can never be broken. As I was talking to Shakeh and thanking her for the lovely reception that her family had provided, a lady came up to me; a complete stranger. In her hand she had a rose petal. She told me that outside, around the statue of Our Blessed Lady there was a circle of rose petals. She looked all around the garden and could see no roses or bushes where these petals could have come from and she was struck by the significance of this coupled with Paul's Remembrance Card "after my death it will rain roses".  I tried to go outside but people were coming to me constantly, offering their condolences and I couldn't get away. Finally, when everyone left I managed to get outside but the rose petals had gone. Almost immediately a peaceful feeling came over me and I knew yet again that Paul was present and that he would always be with me to comfort me and see me through and that the friends that he had left behind who had been so close to him would become so very close to us as well. This has definitely proved to be the case. All of these incidents or happenings are, to me, the roses that have rained since Paul's death.

Since then something has happened that for me there is only one word a 'miracle'. This may seem to some, to be a little extreme but believe me it is completely true.  It is going to be difficult to do this credibly but I will attempt to do so.

In May I received a steroid injection for arthritis, which resulted in immediate retention of fluid in my feet and ankles. When Paul died in July, the resultant shock and long flight aggravated the situation and the swelling was quite severe. On my return to England various tests were done and specialists consulted but there was no relief.  In October, friends in Windsor arranged for a Memorial Service to be held there in the city where Paul had gone to school, started his musical career and had so many friends. Naturally, Matt, Beverley and myself wanted to be present but the Rheumatologist and the Nephrologist (Kidney Specialist) were extremely concerned and whilst they understood and respected my wish to be present they did advise strongly against travelling. The days leading up to our departure were extremely painful and the swelling was getting worse.  I had reached the stage whereby I could only get around outside by using a motorised disability scooter.  I remember lying in bed at night, unable to sleep and praying to Paul to try and get some relief for me.  On the day of departure, I got out of bed and couldn't believe my eyes as I looked down and saw that the swelling had gone completely as had all the pain.  I raised my eyes to Heaven and said "thank you Paul". I was able to make the journey with no problem whatsoever and when I returned and saw the Specialists involved, they were completely baffled. In the words of the Rheumatologist "sometimes in medicine things happen that we doctors just cannot understand or have an answer for and this certainly is one of them because we both had been extremely worried about you travelling in the condition you were in".

Since Paul died we have received literally hundreds of letters, cards, messages of condolence and so many told us of how Paul had touched their lives in some way, whilst he was alive. I am sure he will not leave it at that. He will continue to work for each one of us.  Both Matt and myself miss him dreadfully. Our lives are completely changed, forever. When Paul died, a huge part of both of us died along with him. We try so desperately hard each day to bear this unbearable loss but we know he is helping us as much as he can. I am convinced that he did so much good while he was here on earth that he will not stop now and he will go on to do bigger and better things that perhaps could not have been accomplished if he were alive.  If you feel you would like to, I invite you to submit your stories to this website, of how, since Paul's death, roses have rained for you.

Christine Lawton