Death is the inevitable part of life.
I have had the honour of sharing in some of the last days of people’s existence. Nobody will ever prepare you to watch those friends battle a horrible illness that will eventually take their lives.
I cried for the first time in a long time today. I found out another friend of mine, who endured chemotherapy with me, passed away recently, and I sat and thought about every friend that I have made on this journey. Beautiful people in so many ways that never failed to wear a smile even on the darkest of days. I sat and remembered every person whom I knew that was taken too soon and I felt angry, upset, and I felt so guilty.
I sat and thought about how unfair it was that I was still here and they were not. I thought about the families and friends of the people that are no longer here. I wished that I could speak to them all one last time and thank them for helping me cope with being in hospital. To thank them for laughing through the pain with me.
I had barely experienced death until I went in to hospital. I have been very lucky that all of my close relatives are still alive, and how thankful I am for that. It was not until a lady who became like a chemo mom to me, that told me how to cope with certain things, what to ask for and how to act, passed away first, that I truly understood what losing someone was like. That was followed by a gentleman just younger than me whom had the same diagnosis, who I had fortunately had a chance to say goodbye to, was taken next. He and I had spent many nights sitting up, eating takeaway and talking about life, sat in a hospital bed on opposite sides of the room. Always on about our steroids and what they were doing to us, we laughed about how shit life was, but how happy we were to be alive. All he ever wanted to do was go home.
That’s survivor guilt, the days which you hate that it’s you here and not them. It’s the pain in your heart when you know that a family somewhere no longer has their loved one, yet you get to hug yours. I couldn’t value my family any more than I already do because I know that some day without warning I, or they, could not be here any longer.
Cancer changes your outlook on life in so many ways, in the same way it changes your outlook on death, you learn to appreciate every minute you get on this spinning ball in the vast expanse of the universe. You become thankful for waking up because you actually woke up. Until you face your own mortality, this is something a lot of people take for granted until you realise just how fragile life is.
I will miss my friends every day, and I only hope that I live a life that makes my second chance worthwhile, something they did not get the opportunity of having.
Some people spend their whole lives without ever truly living. That has different meanings for a lot of people, but I know what it means to me, so I will conclude with this:
Death is inevitable, living is optional.