1 August 2022, Ipswich. Today John Kirkpatrick was buried and a celebratory service held afterwards. It was stirring day and not as tough as I thought it would be. Why so? Possibly because the reflection of the hope in him on which his faith was built. Not a gambler’s hope against the odds that be might somehow win but a sure hope grounded in a resurrected saviour who has scouted and proved the route. A hope written in a contract and which is paid in full. There was not a note of despair and as such it was a celebration of a man who knew what he was about. Of a man loved and appreciated by everyone who knew him. In that he was true and constant for all the tales reflected the same attributes – integrity, intelligence, empathy, humour, perspective, drive, humility, competence, family, respect, love, lack of judgement. Unrelated commentators from all spheres of his life reflected the same themes. Men of faith and women of faith alongside those who have yet to discover for themselves the reality of John’s faith all touched the same themes. That alone is testimony to the qualities of John. He hid nothing but put the same JK in front of all he met.
I appreciated the martial element to it all. John the veteran was a veteran of his own will but he was keen to follow me into the intelligence world . So the connection is palpable to me. I drove to the service via the front gate of Amberley Air Base which is host to a powerful symbol of my time there and of his. A static display of a F-111. That was especially evocative. We touched the same artefacts although at different times and yet they still bind us.
30 years since I first met him. So much water under the bridge in that time with John but also the community here. The kids have kids of their own now and those kids are heading rapidly to adulthood. How much has been missed? And yet there was a sweetness not regret in seeing these new families. Gratitude to God that he has blessed them in this way. Sweetness too in the reminiscing of old links, fresh stories, life lived to the full. Blessed that we have been able to see such a beautiful and complete arcs in so many stories. Even and especially in John’s even though we rue the shortness of it.