I was invited to speak at an event this week, attended by all my University friends. And I wish with all my heart that none of it had ever happened.
You see, the event was a funeral, the speech was a tribute and all my friends were there but one, the big man who was always at the centre of the fun and laughter. Until cancer took him from us.
For six months he fought it and fought it. He remained positive throughout. He was as strong as an ox until the final weeks when cancer threw its final punches.
There were several moving, humorous and heart-felt tributes read at the funeral. Mine was short in comparison to the others. Unfortunately most of the stories I have of him are unrepeatable in a church.
He had a cheeky sense of humour, and true to form, he had the last laugh. As the service ended, ‘Bring me Sunshine’ (the theme tune to Morecambe & Wise) played at his request, as his coffin was carried out of the church.
He was a big, whole-hearted man, who loved to gather his friends and family around him. His birthday parties were the only opportunity some of us had to catch up with each other every year, now that we all live so far apart.
He was loved and admired by so many. I underestimated how remarkable he was while he was alive.
He managed to pack so much into his too-short life. He was the embodiment of the Abraham Lincoln quote “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
After the service we gathered for drinks at the local rugby club. We were all in reflective moods, pondering our own mortality and wondering how we can cram more life into our years.
There were conversations about leaving long-term careers and setting up alternative businesses; retraining was discussed, as was just jacking it all in to spend more time with our families.
My advice, as always, was ‘so, just do it already, what’s the worst that can happen?’
I doubt any of us will look back on our lives and think ‘I wish I’d spent more time in the office’.
What can I do differently in the big man’s honour?
- More gratitude: I am going to get my dusty gratitude notebook down off the shelf and resume my list of three things I’m grateful for at the end of every day.
- More hugs: I’m going to hug more – seriously if you want a hug, just ask.
- More exercise: I’ve only run once this week, not good enough.
- More laughter: I don’t have a strategy for this one yet, but I want to bring more sunshine.
If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading this very personal post. In the spirit of this post, I want you to know that I’m grateful to each and every one of you. But nothing makes me happier than when people join in the conversation. So please, please leave me a comment. Tell me what you’re going to do differently. Or just give me a little verbal hug, I could use one right now.
This post is dedicated to Oak of Oak House and to his family whose strength is truly an inspiration. I miss you.