Life’s Stages


Someone precious to me is dying. (Well, aren’t we all.) But he has cancer, Stage 4, and anything from a few months to a few years left.

We first spoke over 30 years ago. In between we would lose contact for years at a time, especially in the pre-internet days. Yet he would welcome me whenever I got back in touch. He is my role model. He showed me how to see, how to think, how to live, and introduced me to books and ideas I never would have found myself.

The final lesson is the hardest of all – how to die.

Have you ever bungee jumped? I haven’t and am too afraid to do so. It seems to me dying is far worse – you don’t get to choose when to jump, you’re pushed. And often there’s no cord to bring you back.

He faces his fears and just carries on working. Like another of my friends, he knows when and where the cancer has spread before the tests show it. He knows better than most what indignities he will suffer when treatment stops working and the disease progresses.

To me, he is extremely brave. To quote Mr Spock, “The purpose (of the test) is to experience fear, fear in the face of certain death, to accept that fear, and maintain control of oneself and one’s crew.”