It’s time to fly

It’s time to say goodbye. The last goodbye. For over two years now I’ve kept Andy’s ashes in a wardrobe in the bedroom. It sounds a bit daft, morbid even, but having them near me was a comfort. It meant that in some way a part of him was still with me, was still beside me, was still looking after me. I wasn’t entirely alone. When you’ve spent almost all your adult life with your partner and then they pass away, it’s hard to let go, hard to get your head around the fact that you’re no longer one half of an and. Not Andy and Paul any more, just Paul.

But it’s time to let him go, to release him, to send him to be at one with the nature that he loved the way he would have wanted. Time to send him off to be at rest with the wild things, the birds and the animals, the flowers and the trees. Time to let him fly with the geese and swim with the trout, time to let him blossom with the bluebells and soak up the sun with the tender young leaves on the beech and the birch. Time to return him to life. Time to say goodbye.

I’ve met someone special now. Someone who can fill life with love. Andy got me there. He sailed with me across the void of an empty and broken heart to the harbour of a new love, a new confidence, a new life, a new half of an “and”. It’s time to let him go. It’s time to think of what he wanted. It’s time to let him fly, and allow him to grow his roots into the rich Scottish earth that he loved.

Andy loved nature. He loved the great Scottish outdoors and watching the birds, identifying the plants and the flowers. We humans surround ourselves with technology and the things we make and create, but we are creatures of nature. The natural world is within us and always will be. Andy felt that strongly all throughout his life. He felt a deep bond with the land and the plants and animals that populate it. It’s what created humanity he always said, it’s what he wanted to return to.

But for the past two years or more, I’ve kept him in a box. Kept him guarded, selfishly, for myself. Holding on to the ashes of a relationship that lives on in my heart. It’s time to recognise that the life of the heart is enough. After the storm of his illness and death, I’ve put down roots again, regained the balance that I lost when one half of my life was lost. It’s time to honour him. Time to do what’s right by him. It’s time to let him go, a final act of love, my last gift to him. But his gifts to me will live in my soul forever, my English man who showed me how to be Scottish.

Andy taught me that you need to dream, you need to hope. Don’t bottle your feelings up, get them out and let them breathe.  He taught me that you need to work to make your dreams come true. He taught me that you don’t regret the things you do, you regret what you never did. Never leave things undone. Never look back on your life and wish you’d done more. Live a life without regret and you live a life that is fulfilled. Andy lived a full life. He had no regrets. He never hid in the shadows, he never hid who he was even when it wasn’t safe to be who he was, gay and confident. And he believed that one day Scotland would live a full life too, an independent life, a life out of the shadows. He did things his own way. He did things for himself. He relied on his own talents, and they served him well. It’s a lesson for a nation.

He never saw the result of the last referendum. He passed away just a few days before the vote, but I know that he would have been so proud of all of us because we didn’t give up and crawl under a rock when we lost that bitter day of deception. We had learned how to hope, and once learned that’s a lesson that you never forget. Scotland had tasted hope. We had tasted the spring after the long dark winter. Nothing would ever be the same, and we knew that the spring would come again.

That’s what Andy taught me. That was his greatest gift to me. Learn how to hope, and if you have hope in your life you can never be defeated. It was a lesson that the whole of Scotland learned that year.

There was a walk down from a friend’s house to the shore of Loch Lomond that Andy loved. The sun would break through the canopy of leaves and the light danced on the rocks. He enjoyed the peace. He loved the sound of the birds in the trees, the rippling waters on the loch reflecting the sky, with Ben Lomond looming in the distance like a sentinel guarding the land. He sat on the rocks by the shore, at peace with himself and the universe. At one with the land, a man with a heart as big as the mountain.

I’m going to leave him there, on the point where the geese overwinter. Then in the spring he can fly with them to the far north, soaring above the hills, the islands, and the ocean on an endless journey to and fro over the Scotland that he came to call home, where he knew love, where he knew acceptance. And he’ll be at one with the earth and the big Scottish sky. He deserves that. And when I see the geese flying overhead, I’ll know he’s looking down on me. He’s looking down on all of us as we’re dreaming a new Scotland into life.

The birds are stirring. The buds are growing. The spring is coming. Hope blossoms again. It’s time to fly.

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0 thoughts on “It’s time to fly

  1. What a heartfelt piece of writing, thank you, my eyes are blurry from the tears that your sharing as evoked, hope spring eternal, always x p.s. and what a beautiful final resting place🌻

  2. You are so eloquently spoken & brought tears of joy wit has that last blog, may you be at peace with yourself in the knowledge that you are doing the right thing by letting him go fly with the geese, bless you Paul, may your future be filled with joy, love & happiness 💙

    • Its not often I cry these days, but reading your words just brought tears to my eyes, this must be an extremely emotional time for you. I wish you all the very best for the coming journey you’re embarking on Paul, and I wish the same for Andy, he sounds like an incredible, inspirational person. Sending you all love and hugs. Xxx.

  3. Even though I have never know him I will plant a tree in his memory for you both.Take time and enjoy your new love.

  4. I’m so happy that your journey has moved forward know that pain and sadness is the price that’s paid for loving someone . The hard times are when you say ” this time last year ” but you’ve got to the ” do you remember when ” stage and they are all the happy memories that allow you to move on but be comfortable in the knowledge that Andy will always live in your heart and he would be happy to know you are happy again you deserve it.

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  6. A beautiful expression of heartfelt love and hope.Thank you for sharing something so meaningful and precious. Very best wishes for a joyous future.

  7. Yes son it’s time for us to move on to the next chapter of our lives taking the love of our lost loves with us. They will be included in the new chapters.

  8. You were incredibly lucky to have each other and to share that awesome love over all those years. Hard as it will be to part with him, you’ll always have what he taught you…and of course, your wonderful memories.

    He’ll always be with you, even if he’s off with the geese.

    I hope someone does that for me.


  9. Your love for Andy has been evident in every post you’ve written about him. This one is no different. It’s beautifully written and obviously comes straight from your heart. Thank you for sharing it with us. x

  10. A beautiful testimony to love, loss and acceptance of the human condition Paul. Our loved one’s pass on and we are left with grief and sadness.I am certain that Andy would not want you to live on for the rest of your life in loveless loneliness pining for him, the way you have so lovingly described him tells us that he would want you to love again, as a man who loved the natural world he more than most would have accepted that life does go on.

    You will carry his essence in a corner of your heart forever and know that now he is free to join with the nature that he so loved, as you are free to live and love again.Love is life, be happy in knowing that Andy will happy for you as he is now peacefully at one with the universe that formed us from Stardust.

    I wish you a long, loving and fulfilling relationship with the special person you mention, maybe a person that Andy sent into your life?

    Peace and Love to You and to Those to whom You give Your Love.

  11. What a wonderful expression of love! And what wonderful memories you carry with you. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing all of this. It would be hard to find a more beautiful place for Andy to be at rest. My thoughts and best wishes to you. Hugs.

  12. Paul, I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Andy, but I’m sure that all readers of your blog will have a special thought for him on our Independence Day and the part he played in winning it.

  13. I have loved your contribution to contemporary Scottish enlightenment and I suspect that historians will refer to it one day. However, I just wanted to say that I feel your pain and I really wish I had met Andy and you in your happier days. I can tell that you are moving on and I wish you and your new partner all the best. I heard today that I will be a grandpa and all I could think of was…..what kind of country would I want for my Grand child? Every time I read your blog, I think, that this is the country I want for me and mine. Keep up the good work. Although the Scotsman blog is where I air my grievances, to an unreceptive audience, I know that independence is not that far away. One day we will hug and chase away the spectre of Unionism. And my grand child will be proud of the stance my wife an I took. Take care. x

  14. WILD GEESE BY MARY OLIVER You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

    with love. x


  15. Lovely words, Paul…my thanks also to Andy and yourself for all your contributions…Move forward now, with renewed vigour, and help us to realise Andy’s dream, which we all share…

  16. Heard you talking so much of Andy , when you where at a talk , where I was present , he sounded like a good person for sure and yeah time to let him fly for sure ..

  17. Nice sentiments, Paul. Like Andy I love nature. I’ve told my wife that when I go, after any organs have been donated, I want a hawthorn planted somewhere remote with my ashes in the root soil. That way I can help give life to a plant that protects birds & wildlife.

  18. That was very beautiful, vivid and poetic, Paul. Brought a tear to my eye. Andy would have been very proud of you, for what you have done, and are doing for Scotland. Thank you for all your hard work.

  19. Beautiful, Paul, brought a tear to my eye. A vivid and poetic and emotional piece of writing. Andy would have been proud of you for the good work you have done, and are doing, for Scotland. Thank you.

  20. “Yet hope again elastic springs,
    Unconquered, though she fell,
    Still buoyant are her golden wings,
    Still strong to bear us well.
    Manfully, fearlessly.
    The day of trial bear,
    For gloriously, victoriously,
    Can courage quell despair!’

    From the poem, ‘Life’ by Charlotte Bronte

    Thanks for helping me get through all that Scotland has had to endure since 18 09 2014

  21. A beautiful piece of writing Paul. Thanks for sharing it with us and thanks for all your hard work. Best wishes for the future.

  22. There is none so powerful as when Paul Kavanagh speaks from the heart!
    You have grieved enough Paul you are right to let him go,
    but you have no need to tell us you will never forget him, WE KNOW!

  23. Beautiful. Made me cry over breakfast. Just beautiful. May your life bring you joy and love, Paul. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  24. SONNET 116
    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
    That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
       If this be error and upon me proved,
       I never writ, nor no man ever loved

  25. He was always there, in everything you wrote. We are grateful to him for letting you do what you do so well.

  26. I hope you and Andy have one last lovely day together before he soars off to watch over you from our Scottish sky. Much love Paul xx

  27. A moving tribute. Yes time to let go but he will always be with you. My wife and soulmate died 11 years ago a week from today. She is always with me in memories even though I have married again. I am a lucky man to have met and married two such wonderful people.

  28. What a beautiful tribute, to Andy, so full of hope and love and life. What comes from the heart, touches the heart. Thank you, Paul. 🙂

  29. That`s a lovely post which I can relate to very much. I don`t think it`s selfish to keep him with you for a while after he has been so cruelly taken away from you. Who do you possibly hurt doing that? And, as you know now, the time will come where we naturally are ready to let go. That`s probably it – you weren`t ready, and now you are.

    Very happy you found love again. Love the bit about your new partner being “and” rather than “instead of”. Best of luck

  30. Plant a Rowan over the ashes. the ashes will feed the tree, the tree will produce the berries which will feed the birds & the birds will carry the seed for miles producing more Rowan trees. And so the cycle continues forever! Nice piece Paul.

  31. The time to cast the ashes is a very personal thing. It took my and my siblings two years to spread my mother’s ashes. I hope the moment and goodbye was special. xxx

  32. Beautiful, just beautiful Paul. I wish you and your new love all the best for the future. And please keep writing. It certainly inspires me to work even harder to gain our independence.

  33. That’s twice in a week a blog has brought tears to my eyes. What an incredible, heartfelt, poetic account of your deepest thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Peace and love to you Paul.

  34. It’s not easy letting go. Sometimes the act of scattering ashes can create doubt. Is it the best place? What will become of the place in the future?

    Sometimes, you have to take your best guess, and let things happen. Chin up Paul. Gie the Dug a bosie.

  35. Beautiful words Paul. Be proud of Andy and all he gave you and us for he surely opened your heart to the love I feel you have for Scotland and all your followers. Love and hugs and hope one day when my time comes someone can write beautiful about me too!

  36. Aye! Paul, I know those feelings so very well. I’ve buried two well loved partners and now it is just me and my wee Papillon bitch. The physical remains are not the end but they do give some comfort for a while. The fact is that the bond will always remain and a part of the loved one will always be near in your heart and in your mind. Such bonds cannot be broken and will always be a part of who we are .

  37. i’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and enjoy it a lot but have never commented before. This is beauty. Peace to you and all that you love and all that love you.

  38. Sitting in my car with 8 minutes till my colleague arrives and we go in to see a patient. And trying to stop the tears! What lovely writing about such a loving and difficult thing. Sending hugs and strength. Your writing has given me strength and I wish you the best x

  39. I hope you can find that rowan tree for Andy to rest under until he soars with the wild geese. That’s a beautiful idea, Paul and a fitting place to associate with him. Rather than a headstone, a mountain and a loch to mark his memorial. There’s an Irish legend that all those who died in exile would return to their homeland as wild geese and Andy had honoured our land by choosing to be part of it.

    I recall a programme presented by Brian Cox who at one point stood in an ancient woodland and talked about how those trees were made by the same molecules that had been breathed by those who had walked there for thousands of years and that the trees and the natural world around them contained that immortality. In the universe nothing that has existed is ever lost. We are made from the ashes of ancient stars and the stuff that we are made of will still be part of the universe long after we are gone. As an atheist, I can be moved by that idea.

    All those lovely ideas are contained in your piece. A moving tribute to a remarkable man and a testament to your relationship.

  40. Paul, that was beautiful. What would life be without love?

    And how am I going to explain my tears to my workmates?

  41. Paul, what a talented, talented man you are – to find words like these within your heart is an absolute gift. I’m in tears, but more for the beauty of your sentiment than anything else. May the love and happiness that you have now, last for the rest of your life. X

  42. Because of your words, Andy will be remembered by many more people, and they will think of him as the geese fly over.

  43. Nice to see a person who had been so deeply in love express a ‘goodbye’ so well. thank you Paul.

  44. May your God bless you Paul and those you love. I’m not a religious person myself, but recognise honesty and love and empathy. I wish you and your partner the very best of everything. Take care.

  45. I’ve heard you speak a few times and it always takes me by surprise that Andy is no longer with you as he seems so alive in your talks. This is a beautiful tribute to him and to your relationship with him. All the best for a happy future. X X

  46. Take me to some high place of heather, rock and ling,
    Scatter my dust and ashes, feed me to the wind
    So that I may be part of all you see, the air you are breathing
    I’ll be part of the curlew’s cry and the soaring hawk
    The blue milkwort and the sundew hung with diamonds
    I’ll be riding the gentle wind as it blows through your hair
    Reminding you how we shared in the joy of living.
    (Ewan MacColl “Joy of Living”)

  47. Omg! What beautiful words and a beautiful sentiment, I’m bubblin! So happy for you that you have found new love, I’m sure your Andy will be happy for you too.

  48. Very moving tribute to one you have loved and sadly lost.

    I wish you and your new partner the love and happiness you deserve.

    All the best .

  49. I held it together until the penulatimate paragraph. Then my screen went all blurry…

    The passions that you and Andy shared live on in excelsis, and in liberating him you are libertating yourself.

  50. I remember very well the night Andy died as I felt I’d lost a member of my own family as we knew him so well through your love for him. Let him fly now. Hopefully we, as a country won’t be far behind xx

  51. Sad yet inspiring. For the first time in over 2 years you will be able to awaken of a morning, open your window, look up to the sky and say “good morning Andy”

  52. Very moving Paul. My late husband is buried and at first I used to go to his grave every week as I tried to make sense of it all. Much reduced over the years.

    However, I still have some of my mum’s ashes – the rest are spread – and she died in November 2012.

    Maybe that is now time for me to let go of her.

  53. I love you Paul Kavanagh. I thank you for sharing this. When I first read it late last night I couldn’t see the screen to reply for the tears. I feel a better person for having shared your journey with Andy. I think he’d have laughed at you for keeping him in the wardrobe. I think he’ll rejoice that you have now found the strength to move on. I thank Andy for having brought you into our lives. It is time to fly. Gie wee Ginger a treat from me.

  54. Paul, that is beautiful and very, very, moving. I have read it, and the many comments from those who support you, more than once and I have been in tears each time. I wish you well.

  55. Your writing moved me and brought back memories… from experience, don’t push yourself, say to yourself “it’s about time I got over it” or anything like that – it takes its own time. It took me a good three years to even start drawing all the shattered bits back together again. Much love, Paul. Much love.

  56. That was beautifully written, Paul. It moved me to tears.

    Andy was a truly remarkable man and I’m sure he would be very happy having his ashes scattered at his favourite spot by the shore of Loch Lomond.

    With best wishes for the future. xx

  57. All the best Paul for the next chapter and thanks as ever for your writing which continues to light the way with both laughter and tears to a hopeful Scottish future for all of us. Andy would be proud.

  58. Paul

    That has left me in tears this morning. It’s so beautiful. I am in a similar situation having my partner die at the end of 2015. We’d been together 20 odd years and barely apart or bad word spoken in that time. Unfortunately for me he decided it was time for him to go. He suffered depression. I left him at the undertakers for over a year and only collected his remains in January this year. He now looks down on me from the mantelpiece. Your writing has made me decide that it’s time to let him fly and drift up into the skies and stars he loved.

    He was a big fan of your blog and got me reading it too. I don’t read every day but then have a feast over the weekend of your posts.

    I am glad you have found someone to continue to share your life with. Wishing you the best.


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  60. HI Paul, just read your words about Andy. They are beautiful, and describe just how loving and loved he was and your relationship. I will probably always recall your Andy, not as a person I knew but as a man who was loved and coincidentally died on, or very close to, the anniversary of my brother’s death. Roddy was a man who lived for the outdoors,kept the secret as it was then of the red kites which had arrived on the Black Isle (many years ago now). He rejoiced in their spectacular beauty and power as they soared above where he lived. We have a visiting red kite, not probably one who is benign given the lambs are about, but s/he sits on the tree behind out wee house in the wilds of Sutherland, I will stop wittering now.

    I miss my wee baby spud more than I can tell you, see him in my son and grandsons, we left him, he was buried (mum was a free churcher) looking towards the North above the harbour in Portmahomack. But his heart and his spirit lives on, in all of us who loved him. My bro, my best bud, my childhood torment. I look at the sea and the mountains and think of him, laughing. I go to the rugby at Murrayfield and hear him shouting louder than anyone.

    Paul, you make me cry reading about Andy and cry laughing at the huffy fluffy

    thank you.

    a big hug to the wee ginger dug

    Issie x

    On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 11:20 PM, Wee Ginger Dug wrote:

    > weegingerdug posted: “It’s time to say goodbye. The last goodbye. For over > two years now I’ve kept Andy’s ashes in a wardrobe in the bedroom. It > sounds a bit daft, morbid even, but having them near me was a comfort. It > meant that in some way a part of him was still with me, wa” >

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