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 narrative (viewpoint) of 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 until the point I do.
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 incurable, stage four, prostate cancer – 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 throughout my life, 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 aged just thirty. After his diagnosis, Richard started writing a blog, his is quite different to mine but it has, partly, inspired me to write my own.
I remember feeling, confused by Richards friend’s harsh comments. He seemed to be, unjustly, criticising Richards decisions & attitudes he was enacting, the stark consequences of his imminent death. Some of Richards decisions, were undoubtedly, affecting others, his family, his friends & his work colleagues….. his best friend (also a work colleague), clearly, disagreed with Richards choices.
Was he being overly harsh, too judgmental, or just selfish? At the time I wasn’t sure? I prefer (now) to believe it might just be that he was angry at Richards situation and even more so, at his own inability to change this sad situation. Most of all, he was angry at his best friend for dying, for leaving him? Or, was he genuinely angry at the manner in which his best friend was dying and the choices he was making? As in if this were him he would do things differently?
I suspect it was a mixture of both, however, it made me think more about the choices I was making now and will have to make in the [near] future, up until my own death ‘the manner in which I would die [and be remembered]’?
I was one of Richards teachers at Glyndwr University and after he graduated, a work colleague. A rising star Richard was offered a job, immediately after 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 son, Aubrey (then 30). I loved Richard as a friend and as a father and I loved that he wanted me as his mentor.
Richard had grown up with his best friend, now turned protagonist. They had spent their whole lives together, as close as friends can be, brothers from another mother. ‘Best men’ for each others weddings (a pact they had agreed as children), from the Welsh Valleys, a very special friendship as children and now as adult, 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 different kind of friends, cancer buddies. A special kind of relationship. During this period Richard told me that writing his 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 and afraid about his situation and their future.
He fought and he fought again and again right up until the end.
Right up to his last breath he had never admitted (accepted) that he would die. Every time we spoke, the last time being twelve hours before he died, he would tell me about the latest trial he had identified, that ‘we should all go together for a meal, soon’ 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 and 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 who might be interested to revisit ‘me’ should they wish – as in my three, beautiful, grandsons and any future grandchildren, lets face it they will not be able to ‘ask me’ directly!
Thanks for reading
My Gorgeous Dog, Buckley and me on our last road-trip to Wales! https://www.facebook.com/865095226/videos/10150210467420227