How crazy is it that in a small moment your entire life can be reshaped from how you once knew it. We wake up every day expecting the new day to be similar to yesterday. We pre-plan the day, the lists of jobs, the friends we’re meeting, the meals we will eat. But we never at one point, take a view, that the day we’re about to start could possibly be our last.
What would you do differently, would you still rush around all day completing your never ending lists of jobs? Would you embrace those moments with a friend or loved one knowing it was to be the last time you’d speak? Would you do those things you’d always wanted to do? What would you do differently?
When my dad was given a year left to live by his doctor, the use of his time and where he would spend it was something he really thought about. Although we never knew he was given a time, he told only our mum, you could tell a shift had happened within him. It began with the sensible organisation, the organisation of “when I’m gone” he’d meet with bank managers, solicitors, he’d talk with my brothers about the family company and the role he now needed them to take on. At first, it seemed very manic it made me feel uneasy, so many changes in so little time and I worried he would end up not enjoying those lasts, embracing those lasts, when he was so caught up in the practical organisation of life.
After the chaos settled my dad really started taking time to enjoy the most simplest of pleasures in life. Sitting outside a bustling coffee shop, in the morning sun, watching the world whip by. Cooking the most amazing meals and inviting all he loved around to share his creations. Just taking time each day to not live in the drama of the world, but to enjoy, and to notice every simple beautiful thing. He would ask to see Leo often. He’d take him for brunch in his local town, they’d make waffles and fresh pancakes at home, they share apples in the summer sunshine whilst talking about all the curiosities Leo had about our world.
He’d go to every celebration, taking time to sit and really talk to people. How many times have you asked someone “how are you?” and not really listened to their reply. It’s so important to make that effort to stay present, to take time to understand, to take time to connect.
He continued to travel when he could, he traveled to Bali, Spain, the beautiful British Coast and also visited a place extremely close to his heart, Assisi in Italy. He’d had a dream when he was quite unwell, battling an infection a year prior, he was quite poorly. I remember him being so excited to share this moment he’d had in his dream, it had impacted him so much that he could not wait to share the experience of it…..
“So I’d gone to bed and fallen into a dazed strange sleep. I looked towards the foot of my bed and a man appeared. He was stood there looking right at me with a huge white and gold glow around his body, his energy was so calm, so peaceful. I didn’t feel scared at all, in fact he felt familiar, safe, almost as though I knew him. I realised then that he looks like someone who I’ve been guided towards a lot lately. St Francis of Assisi, an inspirational man who I have really felt drawn too. I continued to study his face, the colours around him, the kind, warm expression, and then he spoke. He asked me a simple clear question “Are you ready?”. He then looked over to the side of my bed and smiled. I looked too, and I saw all of you standing together by my bed, you, Mum, Murray, Niamh, and Robson. But you all seemed so sad, sad as if I wasn’t there anymore. I was so confused. Then a child parts through between you and mum, and its Leo, he walked out towards me and comes up to the side of my bed and took my hand, saying no words, just holding my hand looking up at me. I looked toward the end of my bed a see this man walking away towards the glow that surrounded him, I didn’t know in which direction to remain, to follow the beautiful glow or to stay hand held with Leo. I then felt a massive overwhelming sense, that I was being given a choice, to stay or to go. I looked at Leo and I smiled. I held his hand tightly, and then i woke.”
That was one of many deep dreams my dad had during his journey, and I loved that he always saw the message within them. After that, he was so sure he’d been given the chance to stay a little longer and I really feel it changed his mindset into that pattern of “what do I want” It was admirable to see someone still chasing after their dreams and goals when being so sick. We make so many excuses as healthy human beings as to why we can’t do something, often focusing on the negative. It’s a battle I know I have often, like many of you, but it’s so important to notice those darker parts and work on them and then notice those parts you want to shine from, and throw all that beautiful light energy into them, allowing them to blossom.
At the end, he called upon those he loved dearest to visit him at home to say their final goodbyes. This is a period imprinted on my heart and a period I feel so so grateful for. I feel grateful that my dad got those moments himself, to see these people. But I also feel an immense amount of gratitude to those people as they came and surrounded dad with an abundance of love at that time. They would hold his hand, talk and laugh, they reminisce with him about their memories, times of celebration, trips, cooking, and more. Every one of those people I admire, as even though I know they felt an incredible sadness, they just surrounded dad with all the light that he needed and that was a beautiful thing to be apart of.
I remember one moment, where I realised the year of final arrangements were coming to a close. A moment that I felt a gut-wrenching crush within me. He was saying goodbye to his two friends, a couple, who my parents have been friends with for a very long time. As they were about to leave he took their hands, looked to them from his bed and said “promise me you’ll look after my Susie” this is a moment it all became very real for me. I witnessed that goodbye, I witnessed that promise between friends, a promise that would have filled my dad with hope, knowing that when he was no longer here, those he loved the most would love, support, and look after her. He was making the final arrangements.
It was clear that the whole year of final moments was coming to the end, he’d done all he needed, said those final words, had those final hugs, all though I know he would have wanted much more time to travel, and experience even more of this life, but that time ran out. That time that we so simply take for granted every single day, had run out.
The message is clear. Don’t wait to do things you want to do. Don’t wait for your kids to grow up to finally do things for your own happiness. Don’t wait to experience life in all its beauty. You never know how much time you’ll have. We are blessed with this life, do those things for the ones we have lost, notice it, embrace it, use it well.
A section from the book “The Gift”
The gift of the story you never got to write.
In the morning, when I am not here, please don’t panic there’s no need to fear,
The worlds we live in are different now, I’m not sure I can tell you but I can show you how,
Allow yourself to dream with me, close your eyes and you will see,
I’m a part of you, I’m all around, you’ll hear me in the wind, you’ll hear me in its sound,
The way we’ll speak is different now, but its something I taught you I know you know how
Use your heart and I will hear, trust yourself, don’t fall to the fear,
Remember the words, the words from me, do not feel sad, for now, I am free.