Until you die. Live.

This week my mum’s old secretary, Vicky, died in her sleep. Vicky was in her 80s and had been living with Alzheimer’s for many years, in a fantastic care home for the last few years of her life, her death was almost certainly a release. My mum was very close friends with Vicky and she was a big influence on our lives as a family – I’ll do another post on Vicky another time. Friday morning was beautiful, the sun was out and a small group of us gathered at the crematorium to wish her off “on her final adventure”.

While we were standing in the sun outside, someone commented on how well my Dad looked. He turned around and agreed, saying he was like a radioactive apple: shiny, beautiful and healthy looking on the outside, but rotting away inside through his core! This struck me as a brilliant analogy of the situation he is in, he does look well, too well and yet all the tests show that he isn’t. He is living each day like it might be his last, a couple weeks ago he was up fitting a kitchen with my brother, next week he has a scan and is then going up to help him build a new shed. I’m not sure how many of my brother’s DIY events are really needed, and how many are designed to keep Dad busy, either way its working so I’m not complaining.

After Vicky’s funeral I was talking to Mum about Dad’s wishes. He has written us all a letter that details what he wants to happen after he dies, I’m nervous and intrigued to know what is in it but am in no rush to find out. What did become clear though was how much my parents love Meadfoot Beach Cafe at the moment and so this weekend I popped down to see what the fuss was about:

It’s some view and a stunning place to spend an hour or two contemplating the future. The strange thing is we all know that we’re dying, it’s just about the only certainty in life – and yet we all seem to find it so difficult a reality to face, to discuss, to consider, and despite all the mental preparation, there is nothing quite like the reality of being at a funeral of someone you loved to bring it home to you how fragile and short life is.

I consider our family lucky to know that Dad is living with terminal cancer, it doesn’t mean we’re perfect or tiptoe around each other (quite the opposite), we seem to keep family life as normal as it was (bantering, joking, arguing – all the ways of communicating you care without being too serious about it), but we have the luxury of doing that knowing we need to make the most of each opportunity. I’m really very grateful for that.

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2 thoughts on “Until you die. Live.

  1. I remember the matron at Rowcroft speaking at a fundraiser I was involved with over 20 years ago – she said that the hospice was not where you went to die, but where you went to LIVE before you die.

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