On Christmas Eve I sat alone in Winchester Cathedral reflecting on the past year. I wasn’t one of the pilgrims that flock there but I might as well have been. Quite still I sat, listening to the ancient acoustics of choir boys echoing past the stained glass saints. Although I don’t think I believe in a God I do enjoy being in churches, especially now. Places of calm and peace. A beautiful sanctuary when the world becomes chaotic and cruel. And whilst I know I shouldn’t, I look around at other people in their prayer. All of life is here. People’s joy, thankfulness, forgiveness, passion, despair, grief and pain. So I sat and felt thankful…….so thankful for the position that we now find ourselves in with Charlie that I was moved to write a note. Left on the altar to be blessed or read by I don’t know who, I lit a candle for him and stood watching the flame flicker, dancing as if blown by the breath of angels. I hope there are angels and a place called Heaven because if there are then that means there is a Devil and his name is cancer and all of this would make some sort of sense. It sounds ridiculous to write, after all cancer occurs through very definite factors, but just sometimes it would be nice to believe. However I do believe in goodness and kindness and sometimes I believe in naughtiness too but most of all I believe in life and in fighting for it with everything you’ve got and in making the very best and the most of it. My philosophy is that although we might all be but specs of dust, collectively, as the eons and galaxies go by, we might contribute to being a better handful of dust than has gone before. I believe in that certainly otherwise what’s the point?
Without a doubt this experience changes a person, brings to the forefront of your mind our mortality on a daily basis, leaves you on the frontline of fear, looking towards the horizon for what lies ahead. I still look for signs; sigh when I see a lone magpie, smile when I see two and co-incidences still continue to happen to me. Take the Christmas break for instance. I was watching the brilliant film ‘Its a Wonderful Life’. I used to laugh as I’d always identified with George Bailey, sat alone in Martinis bar, looking, praying for some guidance as to what to do next in his absolute desperation. I had thought I’d already been in that position. I hadn’t. I am now. Strangely, perhaps by co-incidence our family spent Christmas in a log cabin in Winchester that from the outside looks remarkably like Martinis bar and poignantly I find myself, like George Bailey, hands clasped, desperately looking for help and answers. But George Bailey ended up OK thanks to his Angel, Clarence and I’m an open-minded person enough to see you if you are put in my path in the quest to help Charlie.
The bottom line is Charlie continues to amaze not only me but others. His 20cm football sized tumour is now the size of a ping pong ball and no live cancer cells show on his scans. However he can’t be classed as disease free because of his ping pong. The boy they called a Stage 4 plus has done phenomenally well. I don’t know what’s pulled him through; it has to be said the chemo certainly, all of his other medicines, his own character, the positive force around him, magic, a God or just plain luck but whatever it is I’m thankful.
My resolution is to turn the pockets of relaxed happiness I feel from time to time into a lifetime of laughter. And Charlie will share in it, there is no doubt about it because it can be a wonderful life. Wherever and whoever you are I wish you well in your brave New Year.