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Bridges, Birth, Death and being Made Again - by Leo Trimming

March 1st is the third anniversary of my Father’s passing and St. David’s Day.

The Old Severn Bridge

I took this picture of the old Severn Bridge the day after my birthday in October when I crossed from Chepstow back to England. I was going to post something about it then but didn’t feel able to find the right words. Today felt like the right day to ponder the significance of that Bridge and other bridges we cross in life and death. When I took the photo it was a lovely sunny morning and I had just spent an enjoyable weekend with friends watching some great bands at Summers End Festival, and just having a good laugh … life was good… so why was I in floods of tears as I drove across that Bridge? I decided to turn off the motorway to go and look at that structure and just contemplate it.

So many memories and symbolism were signified in that Bridge… it’s not just any old bridge for me. Firstly, it was the Bridge that my Mum and Dad took me on my first journey in 1982 to Swansea University in Wales… a new world for me as a 17 year old being born in to the adult world of University supported by my parents. We made that journey a few times from home to Swansea, and I changed so much in those exciting, joyful, risky years, and my parents were always there backing me up.

A few years later my Father nearly died in an awful fire whilst my parents were caravanning in Wales. My Dad was in a coma for a few weeks at the specialist burns unit (now gone) at Chepstow and we crossed that bridge many, many times, not knowing initially if he would live. My Mum stayed by his side almost constantly, despite her own burns – a ‘Lighthouse Darling’ for my Dad in the Fog of his unconsciousness.

My wife was in advanced pregnancy with our first child, and we decided to tell Mum that we had chosen the name ‘Sean’ for him, partly because ‘Sean’ is the Irish version of ‘John’, my father’s name. My Mother hugged us so hard - words were not necessary. Thankfully, my father survived and happily lived many more years to see Sean and his brothers grow in to fine young men until Dad passed away in 2014 on March 1st.

I vividly recall the day of my Dad’s discharge from the hospital in Chepstow, which was my birthday (October 2nd). I travelled up from Devon to help them discharge, and just because I wanted to see them leave that place. I drove over the Severn Bridge in convoy with them and they continued on to their home in Berkshire and I went home to Devon… I distinctly recall thinking that crossing that Bridge meant more than just crossing the Severn – they had come close to Death and they were passing back in to life. Within a few weeks their grandson, Sean, was born and despite awful weather conditions they made the journey to see him on his first New Day of Life.

All these years later I was passing over the same Bridge again virtually on my birthday and these memories came flooding back. Contemplating that Bridge I came to realise that along with it’s very real memories there was a symbolism associated with it that touched my soul.

My Parents were my Bridge, providing support and showing me the right way. I have returned to Chepstow a few times since to see some great music and meet friends, but I always think of the significance of that Bridge, even though a much larger and newer bridge bears most of the traffic now. Maybe that signifies the change in generations as my parents’ powers diminished and their children’s maturity developed. Eventually, of course, the relationship ‘flipped’ in that it was their children who became their supportive bridge along life’s way towards the end. In another strange echo, 34 years after I made the journey I too crossed over the Severn with my own son, Ciaran, to take him to Cardiff University. The day before this picture was taken my third son, Owen, celebrated his 18th birthday and commenced his own journey into adulthood – I hope I have been and can continue to be their Bridges.

The connections with that Bridge and the significance of St David’s Day also resonate elsewhere for me. Going to Wales meant I met my wonderful Welsh wife, who is called Bronwen (I owe a lot to Wales!) I often call her ‘Bron’. Strangely, I discovered in a recent TV series that ‘Bron’ can mean ‘Bridge’ in one of the Scandinavian languages – well, she certainly has been my support and strength through good times and bad… and has held me in suspension at other times!

Another connection is through one of my favourite bands, Marillion, who released one of their best albums in 1994 called ‘Brave’ (not long after my father’s accident and time in hospital near that Bridge). The album artwork features the Severn Bridge as it tells the story of a lost soul found on the bridge, and it has always been one of my favourite albums.

Now that my parents have now passed over another Bridge into the afterlife without fear or pain, we are left behind, missing their support and love. We’ll never be the same without them… but they took us to the right places and prepared us for our own journeys across many bridges, whether real or metaphorical.

The ‘Brave’ album finishes with a song of Hope which strikes a note for me personally after a time of great sorrow and emptiness. It’s called ‘Made Again’ and in different ways it could apply to my Mum and Dad, my wife Bron, my children and even myself because at the end of the day we ALL cross Bridges of all sorts being supported on our way, and at other times we ARE the Bridge, supporting others on their way. My parents supported me so much and eventually I supported them with my siblings. One day I will cross that last Bridge and see them again but in the meantime there are still many bridges to cross. My parents pass on to me what I hopefully pass on to my own children.

There have been some dark times but we can all be ‘Made Again’, especially if you have your very own ‘Bron’(!):

‘I have been here many times before, In a life I used to live,
But I never saw these streets so Fresh…
But I never saw those eyes so clear,
Free of Doubt and Pain,
Like the Whole World has been made Again

And it’s all because you made me see,
What is False and what is True
Like the inside and the outside of me
Is being Made Again by You…
I woke up from a deep sleep,
I woke up from a bad dream

To a bright new morning to a bright new world…
Like the whole world has been made again’



First posted on the Marillion and Fans Facebook page in March 2017.

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