A close family friend passed away recently.
It was sudden, it was unexpected. She was only 53.
Our families met through a mutual love of karting when I was younger, and I became very close friends during my tween and teen years with her daughter, who also raced.
I would hop on a train for a couple of hours each holidays to spend a couple of weeks at a time at her home, she would treat me like her own.
Her husband was one of my father’s best friends. Her son a good mate of my little brothers.
She came to my wedding, I went to her daughter’s, my dad and brother went to her son’s (I was working).
Last week, we went to her funeral.
Cancer was the culprit. One which she had subverted earlier, as had her husband in the past, but one which wouldn’t be beaten this time.
In just three weeks, she went from having some tests to being declared terminal.
In a matter of days, her prognosis went from a range of six months to two years, down to just three days.
The next morning, she passed away in the early hours.
It was peaceful, and she is no longer in pain.
Her family are broken.
We are broken.
Life is so fragile.
50 fucking three.
It is too young.
She had yet to meet her third grandchild – but we are told she was able to share the secret of its gender after a special scan was arranged. This warms our hearts.
At the funeral, it was packed. People were standing outside watching on. She was clearly loved.
It was also clear that she was loved more than anyone by her husband of 33 years.
He gave an amazing eulogy.
Not a public speaker, not a verbose man, he laid his heart out there, as he was so obviously tearing apart inside.
He told us how in times of hardship they would tell each other: “if you are leaving, I am coming too.”
He then told us, how on the day before she passed, she said “I am going to be leaving soon, and you can’t come. You have to stay and look after the children and the grandkids, and support them.”
That broke most of us in the chapel, but I think it also gave a lot of us a small if tortured smile.
That was our friend.
Her kids, her grandkids, her friends. They were her world.
At the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Family, friends, love.
I was told recently that the wake is a time to reflect on the person you knew and loved, but also a point from which to look forward with the lessons you have learnt from them.
I have been thinking about this statement, and this is what I have come away with.
Lesson number one – life is short. It is fleeting. And it can end at any time.
Lesson number one – in the end, your relationships with those you love are most important.
When I write these things on paper, they don’t seem that revolutionary.
But really, they are.
We all know these things, but how often do we forget them.
Constantly. Well, at least I know I do.
I need to take a moment more often to remember these things.
To reconsider what I am doing, and what I am planning to do.
If it is really important.
If it is going to make me happy.
If I am being true to myself.
If I am loving myself.
If I am loving those around me.
If I am doing all I can.
If I am making the most of the time I have.
I ask you to do the same – don’t waste your time doing things that make you miserable – the wrong job, the wrong pastimes, the wrong diet, the wrong partner.
Do what will make you happy, do what will add value – for yourself and for those around you.
It is how we can honour those who no longer can.