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Jackie died on a Monday and the funeral was two days later.
My brother Piers, his wife Lin, and I drove to Rock House in Buckinghamshire to collect Dad. He greeted us at the door wearing his bowler, as the Rabbi had requested he should bring a hat. Since none of us had been to a Jewish funeral before, we had no idea what to expect. Squashing into the car, we all set off for Golders Green, allowing plenty of time to find our way through north London.
We arrived far too early and the cemetery seemed deserted. We parked as near as possible, and while Piers lifted Dad from the car and lowered him into his wheelchair, I wandered into the graveyard and found the hollow tomb where Jackie was to go. It was covered but lay waiting, cold and empty.
One after another, bouquets were being delivered and I suddenly realized, with horror, that I had forgotten the flowers I had picked from the garden for Jackie. They were still on the kitchen table at home.
I asked for the nearest florist-and was directed down the road. Leaving Piers and Lin to look after Dad, I ran and ran through the miserable, gray day to the main road, under the railway bridge, and to the right. At last, ahead of me, was the shop, bursting with flowers, glorious bouquets spilling on to the pavement, making a blanket of color.
I picked my way between them. "This is incredible, all these flowers . . ."
"Oh, yes," came the reply. "There's a big funeral today. The great cellist, Jacqueline du Pre, has died, and I just can't keep up with the orders...Can I help you?"
The florist looked aghast as tears streamed down my face.
Through my sobs, I tried to explain that I needed a flower for my sister. I could hardly see but eventually chose one pale, creamy-pink rose with a gorgeous scent that Jackie would have loved. Still in tears, I put my hand in my pocket and found I had left my purse at home, too.
The florist simply gave me the rose. I tried to thank her properly, but could only whisper.
I was desperately anxious to find Jackie, and ran wearily back to the cemetery. The caretaker welcomed me at the gate and promised to put my rose with the family flowers. I asked him where the funeral service would be and he pointed to the little synagogue. I opened the door.
There, on a trolley in the peaceful, wooden room, was Jackie's coffin, covered with a black shroud. I don't know how long I was with her but we were alone again, at last, and I was able to say so much. Silently, I told her I loved her, and said goodbye.
After a while I heard a sound, and turned to find a rabbi waiting quietly at the door. He had one of the kindest faces I have ever seen. He walked over and put his arm round me.
"Many will claim they were her best friend," he said. "Many will claim they alone understood what she needed. But your memories of your sister are unique. They are your own. Let no one interfere or take them from you." He hugged me and whispered, "Never forget that."
I wanted to thank him but, as I tried to speak, the doors opened and in poured the great and illustrious. We were completely surrounded.