My younger cousin died a couple of days ago, on Sunday 3 December 2017.
Whilst not unexpected, being the inevitable culmination of a long illness, all of us in my family, who’ve been trying to give whatever small support that we’ve been able, are feeling so tremendously sad.
There is no preparation, are no words, that can give any comfort to her most immediate family – her husband, daughter and mum, my aunt – and even to my my sister who was by far the best of us in offering her time and support.
For the rest of us, we are, very simply, sad.
I am also feeling reflective as my cousin was just a few years older than I was when I first became ill and we all feared for my life. It’s hard not to ponder about the vagaries and justices of one young life ending whilst another, albeit impaired, has not.
Of course, there is no justice, right or wrong, to be found in any such thoughts. Life and Death occur, to my mind, in an, almost, entirely random manner, influenced but not controlled by us.
As humans, we are able to learn, adapt and change how we live. We develop techniques that enable us to extend life or improve life quality but, ultimately, we will all die. We cannot control or prevent this. Just deal with it when our time comes … and hope we have help to ease us along the way.
And, that is all we are able to do for others as their end draws near. As I have no physical capacity to offer, for me, that giving of ease becomes all about the words and the world of love, laughter and light.
To my sweet, generous, giving, young cousin, too far away for me to drag my unwieldy body physically towards, I wrote these words, from an assortment of mailings, that resonate with me now:
I’m so sorry to hear that your treatment has not been working well and that you haven’t received a more positive prognosis for the future…
It’s hard to know what to say when I can only imagine that your hopes regarding your treatments have been dashed. However, going on, and hoping for the best, is all we are able to do, isn’t it?
I hope your doctors will be able to treat the more debilitating side effect and symptoms of your illness in the next stages and allow you some quality time to spend with your family and those close to you….
I remember reading a book by John Diamond, who was Nigella Lawson’s first husband, who said that when his cancer diagnosis became terminal, he realised how important the everyday things were. Probably more so than the big events. Just getting out, day by day, having a coffee, getting the paper, living life with, and like, everybody else. Spending time with those you love. Making memories of you which are held by them, as long as we all live on….
With your illness, I imagine every change in circumstance feels significant and all of us fear for you, given your precarious diagnosis. Hopefully, as before, you will again be able to rally your energies and regroup for long as you can, surrounded by the comfort and care of your loving family….
I imagine there is little more any of us can do, as the end of our lives draws near, than hope to be, in our final months, weeks, moments, with those we love, who’ve shared our lives, inhabit our memories, whose breath, love and laughter we exist for … those who will remember us with heartfelt love, fondest affection, a smile and the kindest of words and thought…
I really hope you are able to feel such a tremendous sense of happiness that, with all that life has put in your way, you’ve created and shaped a life of love for yourself and those closest to you, unselfishly, including others in your warmth. Your life may end up being too sadly short but, oh, so very worth the living 💫
Burn bright and fierce, sweet cousin, for as long as you have the energy and strength within you. And when you do not. Sleep well. We will all remember. And we will sleep alongside you in turn.
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” St Francis Of Assisi
RIP Sweet Cousin, our thoughts and hearts are with you 🖤