Monday, 17 June 2013

Don't leave it too late!

Life can be so cruel sometimes. Last year I found out that a very dear friend and neighbour had been told that she only had about 2 weeks to live. Despite going backwards and forwards to the hospital for the past 4 years, a recent scan revealed that, not only did she have cancer, but that it had spread to all her major organs, They offered her chemotherapy but as it wouldn't really make any difference to the outcome, she chose not to have it. Not ready to die yet she put up a brave fight but sadly passed away on the morning of Friday 14th June. I'll miss her terribly.

My neighbour was a very 'young at heart' eighty odd year old, who despite having some of the usual aches and pains associated with getting older, loved to get out and about everyday. She always had time for a chat and took a great interest in me and my family. When I needed someone to talk too, she was always there and never judged me in any way. Normally she would have been one of the first people that I would have phoned to tell the good news about my son achieving a first in his Master's degree in Mathematics. But I can only stare at the telephone trying to come to terms with the fact that I'll never again be able to call her, knowing that she would be as delighted as I am at his achievements. My neighbour had watched my son grow up and  knew how hard he had worked and some of the obstacles he'd had to overcome along the way.

Usually when people are given this news they've more often than not been ill for some time and have had more time to come to terms with it. I've heard that it's a bit like going through the grieving process working your way through shock, denial, anger, bargaining and hopefully acceptance. My friend didn't deserve this and I feel angry as well as sad on her behalf.

We often lightly use the phrase, 'life's too short'. I know I do. But sometimes it takes something like this to make us realise how short.
'Life is short. Focus on what matters and let go of what doesn't' 
But why am I writing this?

By the time I found out that my friend was terminally ill she had gone into a hospice and was unable to receive visitors. I hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks and had been 'meaning' to phone her but never 'got round to it'! Other things got in the way. This is something that I'll regret for a long time. I couldn't help thinking about funerals I'd been to in the past where people spoke about what that person had meant to them and remember thinking that it was such a shame the person in question wasn't able to hear it. I decided to write to my friend telling her how much knowing her had meant to me and thanking her for all the times she'd helped and encouraged me. I gave this letter to her family and left it to their discretion whether to share it with her or not. I have since found out that they did.

One of the lessons I've learnt from this tragic situation is that I need to make sure that I tell the people in my life that I appreciate and care about them while I still can. Next time I 'mean' to call someone, I'll try to do it right away and not keep putting it off. Making time to call someone may just save me from a lifetime of regret.

She was a very special lady and will leave a gap in my life that will be hard to fill. But she's left behind the memory of a life well lived and one worth aspiring to emulate.

Here's a poem I wrote in memory of my friend. To help me cope with losing, not just her, but other special people in my life.

'Speak fondly when remembering the times that once we shared
The laughs, the tears, the moments when, a single look conveyed
A thousand things, a thousand words inadequate to show
How knowing you enriched my life, but now I have to go.  

Speak loudly, laugh as memories come flooding through your mind
Your shoulder wet from tears you shed whenever I was kind
The random acts of kindness that you witnessed me perform
The peace I helped you find within the eye of nature’s storms. 

Speak softly when the thought of me brings tears into your eyes.:
The empty ache inside of you may fade as years go by. 
But know that I’m still with you, your heart my resting place
Until the time we meet again, somewhere in time and space. 

Let silence not become the thief that takes me from your heart
Speak, and I’ll always be with you though we are far apart
My life has gone and I am but a page in time and space
But when you speak your words restore me to, a special place.' 

© 2013

No comments :

Post a Comment