Friday, 22 January 2010
All the things that happen in a week
Our friend BB died from her cancer a week ago, and her funeral was yesterday. It has been a sad week. She and Dr P had known each other for many years and were very fond of each other - and I loved her too, notwithstanding knowing her for a shorter period. She was a warm and affectionate person, with a feisty and generous spirit, a good sense of fun, who had a deep and active commitment to civil and human rights and freedoms. She lived a good and worthwhile life, and she made the world a better place. We mourn her with tears, and remember her with joy.
Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of my friend J, who, along with his wife M, I loved so dearly over the many years of our friendship. M has been brave and wonderful all this first difficult year. We have been in constant contact, and will talk tomorrow.
Being married to a much older man, whose friends are of his vintage - and it was a good vintage too - and having lost two of my dearest friends in the last two years, my thoughts do turn to dying and death. They turn to the aged, too, and the quality of life when physical feebleness overcomes the spirit, and when mental powers fail, such as the short term memory, as with Dr P, or dementia, as with my older sister. Possibly because I have had several life threatening illnesses, and because I value honesty and realism over pretence and avoidance, I do not shrink from death and dying. I believe I can be both lovingly and practically helpful. Not in all cases, of course, but I am not afraid of the situation.
What I find more difficult is the frailty and feebleness, the deafness, and the forgetfulness, and , in Dr P's case, the inability to consider other people, and to be unselfish. And I wonder whether I can cope. Will I have the necessary strength, goodness and patience? I often doubt it. Will I have to abandon my interests and activities? Will I survive? What will my own old age be like?
None of us knows the answers to these questions, but they thrust themselves at me, each and every day and night.