Tag Archives: Mortality

Sarah goes sea kayaking: Four days that weren’t

The latest of Sarah’s sea kayaking posts. This one a gentle meditation on life and death. “A reminder that life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when we are living with nature, tides, and the natural cycles of life and death. This I know,” says Sarah, whose younger sister has just died.

*

Anglesey May_24

For several weeks now I have been looking forward to May, because May is such a beautiful month and I love the increasing light, the long evenings, the shift in the season to almost summer, the growth, the fresh green, in fact just everything about May is a delight. And I also have the prospect of four days ‘on the water’ to look forward to as well.

For my latest sea kayaking trip I am staying at Ty Cert near Rhoscolyn on Anglesey. It is a barn conversion next to this disused chapel, which is currently being converted into a tearoom and gallery.

Anglesey May_01

My room has its own outside area, a ‘kitchenette’, and bathroom. Cosy and compact.

Anglesey May_02

Anglesey May_03

It also has a graveyard through the blue gate, and a shared garden. It’s perfectly lovely. Continue reading

My Day in Funeral Land

Sarah, in case you didn’t know, has been working as an Independent Funeral Celebrant for four years now. Here she takes us through one of her days. A fascinating and gently observant account of helping three families through what will happen to us all one day.

“Here’s my day.

6 April_01

8.30am. Breakfast in my car in Anfield Cemetery. Seems strange? Well not for me as I often spend parts of my day in places that are close to crematoria, because I work in the funeral industry, as a funeral celebrant. I create and deliver individual funeral services for families and friends. It is a huge privilege. Today I have three services in three different crematoria.

6 April_05This is my trusty A to Z which is falling apart but is my navigation tool of choice. My regular crematoria are marked L (Landican on the Wirral), S (Springwood, south Liverpool), A (Anfield, north Liverpool), T (Thornton), S (Southport) and H (St Helens).

Driving along Queens Drive this morning I notice that the blossom on the weeping trees is beginning and remember how much I want to tell my friend Rachel every year when I see spring start to arrive. She died in February 2012, I miss her. These strange small trees are really unremarkable for the rest of the year, but for a brief period are in blossom, and are lovely. Do look out for them if you are in Liverpool.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 18.31.55

Image from Google – Queens Drive, April 2015, near Larkhill Place.

I am then up at Anfield Cemetery in good time for my service and take some time here. I love it here. Continue reading

‘Going live’ at The Everyman

I can’t say I wasn’t a bit nervous as I got off the 80 bus by the Philharmonic Hall and walked along to The Everyman. It was half five and, after a cloudless blue day, finally early winter arriving, it was already a black dark night. Will people come out to this?

I arrive at The Everyman.

I arrive at The Everyman.

And go in.

And go in.

Tom Lang who runs The Bistro and the food here has kindly and optimistically reserved the whole of Ev3, the third room for me and what I’m about to try and do.

I stick up my poster to let people know where I am and go in.

I stick up my poster to let people know where I am and go in.

With the dividing doors pulled across from the rest of the early evening Bistro it looks cosy, sparkly and welcoming. But will people come out to this?

The evening before, Deborah Aydon from The Everyman has been in encouraging touch and called me ‘a pioneer’. This is now worrying me more and more. Continue reading

A year to live? 10 things I’ve learned

The culmination of a whole year of ‘Year to live’ posts and also part of a podcast with Liam Black and Lucy Adams.

A year ago now, October 2013, I began living my life with the constant and conscious thought that this year could be my last. Questioning everything, asking ‘Would I do this work, go to this event, spend time with this person if I thought I had a year to live?’ Reasoning that one day this will be true for all of us, but that of course we mostly never know. So why not live with this consciousness for a year and see what it does?dsc05973

I decided to write about it too, and you can go back and look at the posts and discussions that followed if you want. For me though, at the end of this theoretical final year it’s time now to reflect on the main things I’ve done and learned from doing it. I don’t say what follows will turn out to be all I’ve learned, but these are the first ten things that come to mind.

1. You truly never know the day.

I began this ‘Year to live’ in good health and as a theoretical exercise. Out running several times a week and fully confident in my own body. Then within weeks I was thrown into hospital land, a place from which I am yet to emerge. Continue reading

A year to live: Why I write

Continuing my reflections on living as if I only have a year to go. And joining in on a ‘Blog Tour’ too.

A friend has contacted me this week and asked me to take part in a sort of blogging chain letter. Naturally my normal response to this kind of thing would be a firm ‘No.’ But the request was gently done. And pondering the questions asked in the chain letter, I thought my answers might  contribute to my own chain of thoughts in my ‘Year to live’ series of posts. So I’ve decided to start writing and see where my thoughts take me. Let’s go, four questions:

Q1 Why do I write what I do?

Well I didn’t start out by writing on this blog at all. My early blogging all happened to help out my partner Sarah. She was running a blog called ‘Being Sarah’ about a book she’d written and her continuing experiences as someone who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. A couple of times she’d encouraged me to contribute some of my own experiences whilst caring for her through her treatments and recoveries. And over time I became a fairly regular guest contributor, writing particularly about the walking we’d do to shake out all the hours we were spending in surgeries and waiting rooms. The walking we’d do just because we liked it.

With Sarah, on the beach at New Brighton, April 2014.

With Sarah, on the beach at New Brighton, April 2014.

In writing and generally helping with the editing of ‘Being Sarah’ I found myself in regular contact with Sarah’s friends in what they called ‘the Blogosphere.’ Women from all over the world who’d had breast cancer diagnoses. And it was several of them who began suggesting I start a blog of my own. Because I seemed to be enjoying writing and to have ‘found my voice.’ For a long time I resisted the idea. Having no common and binding subject to write about, as they all had, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say.

Well, two years in and 350 posts later I’m nowhere near running out of things I want to write about. Continue reading

A year to live

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while and now something BBC journalist Helen Fawkes has written has prompted me to get on with it.

Helen has been diagnosed with incurable ovarian cancer, and told she will die some time within the next five years, possibly within the next few months.  And one of her responses to this has been to create a list of things she wants to do before then. Not a (kick the) bucket list, as many people call them. But a list for living, containing 50 things like having a go in a racing car, getting a dog, going to Paris on Eurostar for lunch and presenting a programme on BBC Radio 4. She’s done some of her list and is very close to this last as she’ll be on the BBC World Service this coming Monday talking about her list.DSC05973

Unlike Helen, I’ve had no terminal diagnosis and am feeling very well, thanks all the same. Nevertheless I’ve decided to live this next year as if it’s my last. I’ll explain why. Continue reading