There is Always a Time to Die

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‘I can call spirits from the vasty deep.’

‘For you and I are past our dancing days.’

Shakespeare

This is my poppy of remembrance, created from my old watch and a bit of lace, all sewed onto a brooch pin given to me by my friend, Lesley. The idea for this brooch has been hovering in my mind all week, thinking of time and famous writings/writers, and of what is left behind.

Dear Linda, if I could call you back hale and hearty I would. And now dancing in front of me is the age old question, why her, why not me? We were of an age…why one and not another? How are we divided up and served our share of life? Riches and privilege of birth do not matter for each has a completely different life and level of happiness, contentment and satisfaction.

We are all terminal but Linda was the only one I knew who had a measurement in weeks or months – two doctors poles apart in their opinions…nobody could give her anything more definite than that, and she seemed to feel strong, apart from the pain, so all the signals were mixed. That visit was two months ago. When Angela and I left she looked pale and tired but happy to be part of pretty good crack between us and her two cousins. The laughter spilled all over our table in the massively packed, busy restaurant on the first floor of the brand new billion pound hospital wing.

Almost three weeks ago I visited her in the hospice and we talked of adventures in living; she didn’t want to complain of having short shrift because she’d travelled and lived but she assumed she’d get back out there to go for lovely meals in restaurants with family and friends before the final whistle blew. But when I saw her the following week she was drifting, mostly unconscious but knew I was there. My last two Wednesdays were busy with family visiting me and me travelling to visit them, and now I play it back, while I was tossing and turning in a spare room in Newcastle she was dying in her hospice bed – though I’m sure it would have felt like drifting to her. The staff there were very visible and alert to the least sign from both visitors and patients.

My daughter said the dreaded words to me last week, that from now on this was all I could expect, to lose friends…and in a way I would rather take the pain of that than give them any pain from losing me – but then I do want to wander on and on and reach 100 odds. An old woman of 109 was recently reported as saying that the only way to stay alive that long was to keep away from men – so as long as that doesn’t include sons and grandsons I will most likely have a good chance.

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