5th of August

I’m going to buy some sunflowers today.

Ten years ago, we learned that my mother’s cancer treatment was no longer working. It had been nearly fifteen months since her initial diagnosis. In the intervening time she had undergone neo-adjuvant chemoradiotherapy, a fairly major operation, follow by more chemotherapy and, at the end of it all, when we hoped she’d be cured, it turned out that, not alone did she still have cancer, she had more of it. So, her excellent oncologist tried another line of chemotherapy and, on the 5th of August 2009, we learned that it wasn’t working and that the time had come to stop treatment.

The day itself was traumatising, for a number of reasons, which mostly came down to very poor communication by a clinician (not her oncologist), making a bad day worse.

Sometimes, I wonder if my life would have been different, had she still been with us. Obviously, the answer is yes. My apartment would be a lot tidier, I’m sure, for fear of the mammy visiting. More seriously, I wonder how the course of events would have been altered. Would I have passed my FRCPath sooner? Would I have still moved to London? Would I have come back? Would I have visited New York that exact week, and gone to see that exact hockey game, and decided yes, please, more of this sport. Would I have made the same friends? Would I have lost the same friends? Would I have gotten my cat?

I am, all the same, very lucky. I’m lucky to have my friends and I’m so lucky to have the family that I do.

I don’t think I believe that everything happens for a reason. I think that’s a cowardly way of denying that we don’t know why things happen, sometimes. I think all we can do is our best with what we’ve got, in spite of what we’ve got and what we’ve lost.

There are a few quotes from Gandalf the Grey and/or White (book or move, it really doesn’t matter) that get me through these moments. One of them is “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” and the other one is this gem: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”

Anyway, I’m going to buy some sunflowers today.

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