I did a big trip around England four years ago, at about this time of year. It was the summer after my metastatic diagnosis, and it was supposed to be the last summer I would have to be able to get out and visit some of the places I had always wanted to go to. It was one of those Bucket List types of thing so I could mark off some of those 'things to do' ...
Well four years later I have revisited one place which was a highlight of that trip, Southwell Cathedral. It hasn't been a cathedral very long, only since 1884, but it was a Minster before that and the parish church of a small town on the edge of Sherwood Forest. It was a revelation. Somewhere that I had hardly heard of, and which I nearly didn't go to because I was trying to pack so much into that trip. It is a gem, and the carving in the Chapter House is superb. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Southwell_minster_028.JPG It was so special to be able to visit it again. The organist was practicing while I was there. I love the sound of sacred music in a sacred space such as a great church because it seems to be so timeless. It is even better if there are not too many people around to break the spell of what it must once have been like in such a place.
I took my aunt back to the village where she was born and brought up in the Cotswolds last week. She thinks that it may be the last time she will be able to revisit the place where she spent such a happy childhood. I know the feeling. There have been many times when I have wondered if I would pass this way again, but I no longer find it difficult to think in such terms. Does it really matter if I never come this way again? After all familiarity breeds contempt, or so the saying goes. Nothing can compare to that first moment, the excitement of seeing something for the first time. These are the images that say in my mind, though sometimes they are also preserved in a photo like the view of the north Devon coast near Lynton that I have as my screen saver at work. It takes me to that warm summer day with a cooling breeze and looking at the waters of the Bristol channel and the ling casting a purple haze on the ground. I may not return but I have brought it with me.
It is coming up to the five year mark of my breast cancer diagnosis. It is further than I even thought I would get, and the best thing is that the journey is continuing.