Time to die

[Retrospective: 14th June 2004] I’m lying on a hospital trolley and the nurses are wheeling it towards the operating theatre. As we reach the doors, D grips my hand tightly; she’s very brave. Big fat tears roll down my cheeks and I try to say “I love you” in a bold voice. It comes out as sobs, then the trolley rolls into the prep room.

For three days as I lie in bed in the hosital room, I think what the consultant said when he phoned me the Saturday before, “It’s cancer.” I wonder if when he’s going to come back and tell me about the chemotherapy course. I want to know what kind of cancer it is and what the prognosis is likely to be, life expectancy etc. I want to know how many of my three childrens birthdays I will see. I wonder at all the things I wanted to do but hadn’t got around to yet.

I also think about the wonderful things that I have seen and experienced. D is the most wonderful person in the world to me and I’ve been so lucky. I have three children and I am humbled by the wonder of seeing them grow up to be seven, five and two. It’s been hard at times of course, but so rewarding. I’ve snorkled over coral reefs. I’ve been rock climbing, canoeing, windsurfing, white-water rafting. I’ve read some great books and seen some wonderful films. I’ve got some fantastic friends. I’ve visited Hagia-Sofia in Istanbul and seen the ruins of Ephesus. This is beginning to sound like Rutger Hauer’s swan-song in Bladerunner! I’ve been skiing. I’ve overflown Angel Falls in Venzuela and trecked up a river gorge into the foothills of the Ayantepui. I’ve seen the street markets in Thailand and the Philippines and smelled the tangy, earthy aroma of the food stalls there. I’ve been bungy-jumping and I learned to ride a unicycle.

Perhaps (as Roy Baty says) it’s “Time… to die!”

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