A time to die

I’m afraid this might be a bit of a miserable blog. I spend a lot of time with people who know that they are going to die, and having cared for a dying man myself I have learned to accept it. It’s natural, and we will all go some time. The death of David Bowie was for many people a great loss, but for me he was not the sort of person who could be imagined as an old man. Alan Rickman died too, and he will be missed. And The Bloke’s mum is fading fast and we will be going to see her this week, almost certainly for the last time.

And with all of this, life goes on, doesn’t it? The people I meet with terminal illness are always more concerned about those who will live on afterwards than about themselves.

So, this week I’ve visited a little local museum to borrow some artefacts for a project I’m doing with my young people’s writing group; again, memories of people who died during World War 1. Surely we can let them go now?

I answered lots of emails on Monday, and we had a really good rehearsal, and on the way home I saw a hedgehog, which was lovely. On Tuesday I had a great session at Cheltenham hospital; these very ill people are so positive that it’s nearly always an uplifting experience. And I had my first session this term with my group in Cirencester; not as many people came as I had hoped, but those who were there were brilliant. I was determined to catch up with all my emails and by 00:15 I did.

Another good hospital session, this time in Hereford, on Wednesday – and loads more emails; there seem to have been an awful lot this week. I took a lovely car for a test drive but I don’t think I can afford it. And I wrote up all the things I had done so far.

On Thursday I did a lot of Artlift work and a lot of Poetry on Loan work, and then went to Ledbury for a public reading of poems in support of a Palestinian poet, Ashraf Fayadh, who has been sentenced to death for his poetry in Saudi Arabia. Of course, such protests are useless, but I couldn’t not do anything; it all makes me so angry. I don’t know if the sentence has been carried out; it seems to have dropped out of the news.

In between all this I’ve had long calls from the Son and The Daughter and The Brother and my mum, who is, I think, seriously ill, but we can’t get anyone to take it seriously.

And on Thursday evening I saw The revenant, which was a long, gruelling movie, but one that held me gripped throughout.

On Friday I did some prep for sessions this coming week, and spent hours and hours on Artlift work, and read a play written by a young friend who wanted some constructive criticism; that took quite a while.

Over the weekend I’ve been looking at cars. I can’t decide what to do about a new car. And at the moment it all seems relatively unimportant. I have to rearrange things I was going to do this week to clear the decks for visiting the dying.

Sorry. I hope next week I can be a bit more upbeat.

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