When you are young, for most people anyway, thoughts of your own death tend to be far off. It seems so far away as to not be worth thinking about. You have energy and plans which are all-consuming as you work and play your way through the early years. Jobs, relationships, families, exploring new places.... so much to do and so much time stretching ahead to do them in. However, as you get towards the end of your three score years and ten, it is inevitable that those thoughts of your demise start to feature now and again. I am currently 66 going on 50, feel I have many more decades to enjoy, but unfortunately at the moment seem to be surrounded by illness and death, which makes me a little nervous about my own. Funeral invitations seem to outnumber by far any for weddings or christenings. I suppose it is to be expected as you get older and friends of your own age start to come down with things. But I am not liking it. I am certainly not ready to shake off my mortal coil any day soon. I am a spring chicken.
In the last month I have learned that:
- my husband's best friend recently found out he has bowel cancer and three days after his successful operation to remove it, he had a stroke. He is slowly recovering. He is 65.
- the husband of good friend of mine has been told he has a few days to live. He has kidney failure and associated heart problems. I am trying to buoy up both him and his wife but it is emotionally draining. Admittedly he is 94, but it is still upsetting as he is still very with-it and intelligent (ex-headmaster and WW2 bomber pilot).
- a member of my wider family has bowel cancer and is about to undergo 6 weeks of chemo and radiotherapy followed by a colostomy. She is in her fifties.
- an old school friend died two days ago of a muscle wasting disease (MSA). She was 66, like me.
I suppose we all hope to go on forever and don't really consider death until it stands up and punches us on the nose, but when it surrounds us and attacks many of those close to us in age within a short timescale, you cannot ignore it. Of course death can come to those well before their time, as we have witnessed in Manchester recently. Does a time ever come, I wonder, when we accept our time is up and go quietly? Or do we rail against it with all our might until our very last breath?