I was thinking of doing a bit of a summary of the last 12 months, a sort of half time report. It seemed appropriate, what with chemo ending, although you know now that this isn’t the case, chemo goes on. The problem with a half way report though is that you have to know when half way is. How much longer to go? I’d like to think I’m at least half way, but in all honesty, there’s no way of knowing. There’s a good the chance I’m well over half way, but I don’t know that either. The one thing I do know is that there will be an end, and the chances are that it will be due to cancer.
A week or so ago a group of 50 or so youngsters from the North West boarded a coach to attend a music festival on the Isle of Wight. The atmosphere on the coach would have been electric with the anticipation of what was to come over the weekend. For some it may have been a first experience, but the majority were no doubt veterans of many festivals.
Every weekend across the country there are tens of thousands of people heading to festivals for the thrill of experiencing a weekend of live music and art. They endure long journeys, expel unimaginable amounts of energy , camping in wet, cramped conditions. If lucky, they’ll get a couple of hours sleep before the sun turns their temporary shelter into a sweatbox. They’ll experience the camaraderie that goes with these weekends, everyone is a friend. If someone falls down they‘ll get picked up. If someone gets lost they‘ll be pointed in the right direction. Everyone looks after one another, nobody is judged. Of that they could be sure of. What they weren’t to know is that two of them wouldn’t make it home. Tired wet and exhausted, the coach on which they were travelling crashed on the way home leaving many of them badly injured, some of them lost limbs, and two of them, plus the coach driver, lost their lives. The parents who were worried they would drink too much, be tempted by other substances, fall and hurt themselves, would not be seeing their young one’s alive again. There was nothing to indicate that their lives would end so suddenly and tragically. They were robbed of the opportunity of saying goodbye, robbed of the opportunity of a dignified end. They had nothing to indicate that the end was so near.
Yesterday, two female police officers waved goodbye to their loved one’s and headed off to carry out their duties in the job they loved. They had probably gone through the same morning procedures as any other normal day. Except this was not going to be a normal day. As they attended a routine call to investigate a report of burglary, they were shot down and killed in such an evil way. The shootings took place just a few miles from here, a place I regularly drive through. One of the officers comes from a village just a couple of miles up the road. A quiet sleepy village in Saddleworth, where she went to the village school, where everyone knew her and knew of her ambitions to join the police force. An ambition she fulfilled as she embarked on a career she so obviously enjoyed. As they left their homes that morning there was nothing to indicate that their lives would end so suddenly and tragically. They were robbed of the opportunity of saying goodbye, robbed of the opportunity of a dignified end. They had nothing to indicate that the end was so near.
These were four lives that were taken far too soon. Lives that would end without any warning. An end that nobody was prepared for. No goodbyes, final wishes or a chance to say I love you for the final time. Nobody wants cancer, but at least in most circumstances it gives us the opportunity of being prepared for the end. It gives you time to think about what is valuable in life. It gives you and your loved ones, the opportunity to prepare for the end, a chance to say I love you, a chance to say goodbye. For that we should be thankful, for it is an opportunity not everyone gets.