Love lost, read and found
If I have any regrets and of course of which I do, one of them is a walk in a park that never happened. Katherine and I for all of our single lives, lived on opposite sides of Wandsworth Common and spent most of our youths frequenting the park. In Katherine’s case, she had many happy memories of her childhood there where growing up, her Dad would take her brother and her repeatedly, for weekly walks at the weekend. When her Dad Ernest died in July 2011 this was a fond memory Kath referred to in her tribute speech and for so long after, she kept on saying how she wanted us to take our daughters to Wandsworth Common to retrace his steps and relive some of the memories as a tribute so the girls could remember something new of their Granddad.
At first we went on holiday to Cornwall as an immediate tribute to him where once again Kath reiterated her desire to also go back to the common one weekend when the weather was fine. But she was also mourning and before we even knew it the summer was over and the girls were back at school and Autumn breeze quelled our out going needs and the need to visit Wandsworth Common was put on hold until the brighter days that were sure to follow in the not too far off coming Spring once Autumn and Winter were finally out the way . But by the time it did in 2012, Kath was ill and opportunities were few and far between from then on in.
From then on in, the seasons were out of whack and we didn’t ever know if we were coming or going. When you experience a phase in your life where you are living through four seasons in every day, you can’t always remember, just yesterday! Everything we were going through in each separate day was a story all of its own that I have been trying to tell as I write on reflecting the lows and recounting highs. Each of the tales in truth have no real start, nor middle or even end, but just the struggle of standing in the wind turning over each leaf in a book on grey blustery days and trying hopelessly to find a way to stay on the right page.
But there was no script to be followed or an order of play, no schedule of events or even an index to guide us, even the contents page was yet to be written and when if ever that that came one day to be, surely it would not contain content of content.
Four seasons in one day could well describe each day of the seven months from the first diagnosis right up to losing Kath. The moods, the emotions and the hopes and desperations were there every day along with the momentary ups and so many downs along the way.
A trip to Lourdes similarly met the same fate, where Kath had over the years talked about us going, but for whatever inexplicable reason we just put it off until a time I could not put regret on hold. She never went and only after she died, did I finally go in tribute.
I don’t want to be that stereo-typical sound bite of someone wise after the fact, who in hindsight thinks he is now qualified to impart his hard found wisdom on the microscopic masses and preach about how you must make the most of every day. Telling you to seize the moment, or to live for today, or not to regret any tomorrows would be a pointless thing. We cannot respond or react to that in any way that is really sustainable for more than the moment that the idea might inspire us to.
We are all stuck in our ways and it is not through any fault of our own but just circumstance and routine. Almost in every case, we have reasons why we cannot change and despite any gallant efforts to buck the trend, life can be like a scratched record that keeps slipping into the same groove!
When it comes down to it, you are going to die and when you do, most of what you hoped for ahead will become nothing but loose ends in someone else’s head.
So I am not going to sit high on my horse looking down and ask you to ‘live life to the full and have no regrets’. But instead I am going to ask you to think about and then admit, whether you are living your life ‘put on hold’?
We were very much living four seasons in every day and yet our lives were put on hold. In some of it we had no choice as Katherine was seriously ill, but perhaps we’d complacently put on hold many times the things we didn’t really want to put off for any long length of time, but commitments and our routine, routinely took our eye off the ball and with that happening it is not surprising when the ball eventually rolled away. The things we didn’t do we can label ‘unfortunate’ or just ‘regretful’ or even ‘tragic’ but in fact they are just ‘the things we didn’t do’ and we can blame our workloads or our routines, or family commitments and lack of time, or missing focus and juvenile distractions or just misplaced wisdom in failing to recognise the measure of time, it doesn’t matter! Destiny or not, the things we didn’t do in life are just the things we put on hold!
Well you could say Kath and I got a timely wake up call to do the things we didn’t do, but by the time we did, we were living four seasons in every day and even more of things we hoped to do, were added to the things on hold. In seven sick months the list is many and who knows how long the list might be if I count the things on hold that we put there in all the years of opportunity and health. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you need to suppress the regret to enjoy it.
12 days of summer sum up what I feel. On July 23rd 2012 Kath was awaiting results from various scans but was still optimistically hoping to get away with us for a much needed holiday and respite from all the negative deathly gloom. On July 25th she was given results saying of the two tumours one had shrunk and one even disappeared and her lymph nodes showed a similar result and surgery was no longer needed and suddenly the future looked like a future again. But cruelly (and I can’t emphasis the word ‘cruelly’ strongly enough) within the next few days she started to feel even worse and needed more scans to find out why. A few days more and on 4th August 2012 just 12 days after looking forward to a hopeful holiday and just 10 days after being told she was winning her battle in beating the cancer, they told her they had more news. Suddenly we could feel it in our bones, then they told us the cancer was in her bones and now it was already to late to try to put it off any longer or put its progress on hold.
In facing head on, the gusts of four seasons in every day, the pages were flapping rapidly and we long lost our place and the measure of time. The script when you measure is never what you think it will be and we found ours to be too short of enough words. We never caught sight of our place on the page once again or of anywhere we were, just sight of everywhere we weren’t and I can tell you, it puts you off knowing you are going right with all the things put on hold.
I wish more than anything that I had taken the opportunity to have had that walk in the park!
One day we will regret not having admitted when we asked ourselves, “Through all four seasons did I live a life put on hold?”
It doesn’t matter what you answer. There are only ‘four seasons’ and ‘one day’!