I am dying and I am incurably in love with living

The 23rd December 2015 was a day like no other, the day I have never ever felt more alive, the day my love affair with living took on a whole new dimension, the day I could, for the first time, hear my clock ticking. The day I was told that I had cancer, the day I realised that I was not going to live forever.

Is Life a gift?

Storytelling is as old as mankind and plays an important role in society. Stories, benefit the teller who relives the experience. Whether the experience is good or bad, the telling thereof is liberating. It also benefits the reader because every story has, at least, a grain or two of pure gold.

This ‘Blog’, is my storytelling. My personal narrative and sometimes, my social viewpoint on a troubled world. An attempt to document a life-script, largely from the point at which I discovered that I am going to die, and if nothing changes, it will continue, up to the point of my death.

I have (already) pre-wrote ‘My Last Post’, ‘Dear Gail, I am dead’, this will be published (to Gail) after I die, I haven’t quite worked out how to make that happen yet!

This Blog focuses on powerful feelings and emotions I have experienced on learning, and now, living with an incurable disease – Life. Terror. Ecstasy. Denial. Fight. Flight. Failure. Pain. Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Hope. Love. Peace and ultimately Death all feature. It is also a last chance for me to document how I feel, have felt, for future generations to re-visit, those who will not know me (my grandchildren perhaps)?

Somebody once said to me, ‘it is not (just) how a person lives that defines their life? It is also about the manner in which they (choose) to die’ He was alluding to a close friend of ours, Richard, a bright, talented young human, who suddenly had terminal cancer. After his diagnosis, Richard started writing a blog, his is quite different to mine but it did, partly, inspire me to write my own.

I remember feeling, confused, angry at Richards friend’s, harsh comments about his best friend. He seemed to be, harshly criticising Richards decisions, attitudes that he was enacting, the stark consequences of his immanent death. Some of Richards decisions, as a work colleague, were affecting his (work) life.

Was he being overly harsh, judgmental, even selfish? At the time I wasn’t sure? I prefered that it might just be that he was feeling angry, helpless for Richard and his own inability to change anything. Angry at his best friend for dying, for leaving him? This materialised as anger at how his work load had increased. Or, was he genuinely angry at the manner in which his best friend was dying?

The Choices he was making?

I suspect it was a mixture of both, but it made me think more about the choices I was making, going to have to make for my own life up until my death ‘my death manner’?

I was Richards teachers at University and later a work colleague, he was a rising star and was offered a job on graduation. Due to our age gap (close to 30 years), I, naturally, fell into a mentor, father like role in his life (his own father had died of cancer when Richard was just a boy). Richard is (was) exactly the same age as my own son, Aubrey.

Richard had grown up with is best friend, now protagonist. They had spent their whole lives together, as close as friends can be, brothers from another mother. ‘Best men’ a very special friendship and now work colleagues.

It wasn’t long after Richards diagnosis, that I received my own shitty cancer news. At that point I no longer worked with him. For a brief time, the remainder of his short life, we became cancer buddies. A very special kind of relationship. During this period Richard told me that writing a blog had helped him, he found it useful, therapeutic, purposeful, his on purpose.

He was a young man, with a young wife, and baby daughter (their first child), a beautiful family with an amazing future. Richard was (understandably) angry about his situation.

He fought and he fought again and again right up until the end.

He never admitted (accepted) that he would die. Every time we spoke he would tell me about the latest trial he had identified, always planning for a future. Death was not an option. I don’t think (near the end) his denial did him, or his loved ones any favours.

I still think about how angry and disappointed (in him) his close friend was about the way his best friend had dealt with his own death, more specifically, how he had conducted himself for the remainder of his life.

Has this had any influence on how I will deal with my own death, the rest of my life? It has certainly made me consider many things, some that I didn’t expect and, it has partly stimulated the creation of my own blog.

However, the main reason for this blog is to allow my voice to be heard after I have gone. For anybody to revisit ‘me’ should they wish – as in my grandson and any future grandchildren, lets face it they will not be able to ‘ask me’ directly!

Thanks for reading.



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