It is two weeks since I posted on this blog. I had had it in mind to write again about the refugee crisis but I haven't felt able to express what I wanted to say. I have at least two unfinished attempts in my drafts.
However, this weekend something happened which took my thoughts and turned them upside down and inside out. A friend has died from one of the most aggressive cancers I have ever had the misfortune to hear about. Diagnosed a very short while ago and gone this weekend.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Family Diseases Tree. I had based it on the issue of diabetes but ended the post with a World Health Organisation quote about 'non-communicable diseases' in general - cancers, heart disease, diabetes, etc. About how much more remains to be done to combat these diseases.
And once again, along with far too many others, a family has been torn apart. It has seemed incredible to all those who have had to watch this happen that in in this day and age, in a modern society, someone can be taken so fast. The doctors knew what it was but were powerless. The disease was unstoppable.
Yet billions are spent every day on wars, on political campaigns, on super yachts, on an endless list of unnecessary things. It is more than time for things to change. Eddie Izzard has run twenty seven marathons in twenty seven days. He has raised millions. It has been a staggering achievement. Except that every day, while he was running, other human beings were spending that same amount of money like it really does grow on trees. On things to kill other humans, things to make even more unneeded cash, things to make themselves feel good.
* * *
On a less general note, I have also written before about how a family tree does not really show the truth of a person's existence. You might look at a tree and think 'oh, they had no living relations when they died' or 'she lost her children in infancy' and not always stop to think about the implications of those pronouncements. Or about the people that they would hopefully have had around them. I wrote about needing a 'friends tree' as well as a family tree if we were to see the full picture.
On my tree, the friend who has died would appear at the time I became a parent. She was already the parent of a toddler when I staggered to my first post-natal group clutching a three month old baby. And during that period, when I had my two children, she was a wonderful person to be around. There was a tight group of us. All trying to come to terms with our new situations as parents. To survive the pregnancies, the sleeplessness. But also to celebrate the good times together. She was a great one for celebrations. A beautiful cake for every occasion. Laughter, love and food. And a few drinks too. As our children grew up, that closeness ended. There was never a fall out, just a moving on. She always threw herself completely into life at whatever stage she was at. In recent years, it was her theatre work. The last time I had more than a fleeting conversation with her, she and her family had joined an annual camping trip that a few of us always organise. I remember sitting by the river, watching the children swim, chatting and having a glass of wine. She was sewing or knitting, as I recall.
Friends come and go in your life. But I cannot bear to think that she is not somewhere, even if I had not seen her for a while. Another one taken too soon, as another friend said this weekend.