I attended the funeral today of an old friend who took her own life because of the physical pain that she was in. I have no idea what drives a person to take their own life, and cannot begin to imagine the dreadful, dark place that she must have been driven to. Her family were devastated. One member said he felt cheated that she had been snatched from him.
I stood in the crematorium, bewildered by how my friend had touched so many lives. There were at least 300 people crammed into the circular chapel, there were nearly 200 standing, packing the place out. Cars were parked everywhere, in every conceivable space and beyond.
A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of my best mate's dad. I'd known Adam's dad; Walter for nearly thirty years, a gentle, lovely soul, and a real enigma. Walter was one of the brightest men I ever knew. He would complete the Telegraph crossword in less than 10 minutes and have a wonderful turn of phrase and an entirely dry sense of humour. Walter was 78 when he died, but was still a very good mate. I loved the times I would just sit with him and hear him reminisce. He was a great talker, and a gentle listener too. One of the old school who dearly loved his family.
Listening to the last tributes of a life is an inspiring and insightful thing. All the problems you think you have are suddenly put in perspective.
We live life, dangling by a precious and delicate thread that can so easily be broken. I realise, as time goes by how much I love my family. I would do anything to protect them. I relish the times that Harry, my 7 year old cuddles up to me and know, instinctively I would do anything to keep him from harm.
I don't want to sound morose, far from it. I want to capitalise on the time I have here and not waste it. So many people ask why I do so much. I just don't want to miss out on things, but then again I don't want to do all the wrong things.
I want people to attend my funeral when that fateful day comes, and have my mates hear that I lived life to the full and left some sort of legacy. I want my kids to be proud of me and remember me for the right reasons.
Life is definitely for the living.
Some things my dad, a minister, taught me as a child mean so much to me now:
1. Keep a short account with God. You may not be particularly religious, or have any faith at all. I do, and I'm proud of it. I'd like that beautiful scripture to be something I would yearn for "Well done, my good and faithful servant"
2. Live for today, plan for tomorrow.
I need to keep reminding myself that we're here for just a season, and that as bad as things get, there are some wonderful experiences to be had. Things should never be taken for granted and I would hate to sit in a bath chair at the end of my life full of regrets and unfulfilled wishes. I'm determined I won't.