Whenever I'm drafting the next post for this blog I always try to keep it light and humourous where possible. But life isn't always, as you will be only too well aware, a bed of roses.
Shortly after the twins were born, last April, I watched them sleeping. They looked so vulnerable at that early stage of their lives. My thoughts drifted towards wondering what they would grow to be like as people, what sort of occupations they might have, their physical appearance when they eventually get to where I am now. It was this last question that pulled me up with a start. Unless I live way past my centenary I'll never know the answer to that one. For an instant, a pretty depressing thought. Luckily, however, I'm not the sort of person who dwells on issues around mortality and even as I write this, I am somehow disconnected from imagining the end of my days.
Yesterday I visited a cousin who, only two months ago, was leading a normal life. Then he was diagnosed with having a chest infection, which laid him low for a few weeks. He later collapsed at work and underwent further examination before receiving a far more devastating diagnosis, Acute myeloid leukemia.
Like me, he has a loving family. He's 52 - a little younger than me – but a grandfather, as I am. He's one of those fairly distant relatives that I've known since I was a boy and it's been the kind of relationship that brings about surprise at reunions and gatherings of the clan. You see, I always carry a picture of him in my head but whenever we meet he never matches the mental image. I dare say the same is true for him, and yet there is an undeniable connection.
My mum travelled to the hospital with me yesterday and in the Haematology and Oncology unit we both 'gowned-up' and waited patiently with two other visitors until the Chaplain had finished her call.
When we eventually met him at the threshold of his room there was an emotional exchange of greetings, probably charged by the news that after one course of chemotherapy his blood readings were ever so slightly improved. He had, in his own words, woken that morning as 'Mr Angry' but then came some minute sign of improvement.
Although he has a mountain to climb, he is now looking forward. Forward to being home, forward to having his family and friends around him in a normal environment, forward to living.
The doctor told him that twenty years ago this condition would have meant one month and that would have been his lot. Today it's possible to live with it.
Occasionally, we need timely reminders of how fine the line is that we all tread. I know this is true, I had one yesterday.
Get well soon Derek. We're all rooting for you.
© 2009, copyright Martin T. Hodges