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Thursday, 31 May 2012

23 years ago today

My mother died.

It is one of those moments in life that changes everything and although at the time it was a shock, with hind sight I have had to accept that it was the perfect time for her to go.  She had arthritis which was beginning to progress to the stage where the things she really enjoyed doing were becoming impossible.  She had surrendered the garden to me several years before, but arthritis was starting to take away the ability to do needlework and play Bridge, which was her main social activity.

Fifteen years before she had a mastectomy because of breast cancer, though she did not have a recurrence and instead died of an aneurism.  She went out that morning to do a few things and I came home from work in the morning to find a friend driving her car into the drive.  She had been taken to the A & E department at the old Lymington Hospital and she died there a few hours later.  My only regret is that I wish I had understood that she was dying when I was allowed to go in and see her briefly when I got there.  Instead I made a joke about her making a nuisance of herself.  If I had known I would have taken a bit longer, though what I could have said I don't know; I love you and thanks, I guess.

Life rarely goes to plan, but there again I have never had much of a plan in the first place.  When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I assumed that I would be like my mother, have the mastectomy and go on living.  They ignored my comments about the pain in my hip and shoulder, and reassured me that with adjuvant chemo I had an 80% chance of being alive in 10 years time.  That changed a few months later when the onc finally looked at the x-ray taken in November (it was January by then) and realised that yes, I did have a bit of a problem!  Chances of being alive in 10 years...initially I was told six months, possibly a year.

What I have come to understand since then is that life is not measured, or lived, in terms of years.  It is measured and lived in days, in memories, and essentially in this very moment as I am breathing and typing this post.  Que cera, cera, whatever will be will there any point in looking forward to tomorrow when all we have is right now.  That is not to say that it is not good to have things and events to look forward to.  This weekend I am going to the English Music Festival, and there is the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.  I hope to see the Queen when she comes through the New Forest in July, there is the Olympics in August, in September I am thinking of going to the Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay but none of these things have the focus that today has.  Tomorrow is another day, and another month, so I will just have to wait to see what it brings my way.

Whether or not you believe in God we all have to hope that we go at the right time as my mother did.  I don't know who said it, or who quoted the saying that 'One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name'.  I think it was Seb Coe or Robin Cousins in their autobiographies (both Olympic Gold medalists for the non-Brits reading this) but is applies to a complete nobody like me, as much as to someone who really did experience that one crowded hour.  I have not lived a crowded hour, and certainly not a glorious life but I have found contentment with today and that I firmly believe is actually the more important.

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