This time last year was probably one of the hardest times of my life. In the past month, I had already attended three funerals – and tomorrow I was to learn of another death of somebody that I knew.
This person was a girl I knew only by her name and face – our only connection being through singing in the same choir, yet has motivated and changed my life in so many ways I cannot quite believe it true.
My great uncle died alone during autumn last year, alone, on his bathroom floor. He had no central heating, and his house was filled with damp and photographs.
He had no one to care for, yet he was one of the kindest souls I ever knew. He always made such an effort whenever he saw the rest of our family and made so many sacrifices. He sold his house when my Grandad needed surgery and care after heart problems – heart problems of which the coroner thought he also passed away from. Luckily, an old school friend who is a local landlord brought the house and allowed him to stay there for a very small amount of rent on the condition that he could renovate and rent the house after his passing, or if my uncle wanted to move prior to this. No one in my family, or the landlord, had been inside this house in over thirty years.
The calendars and papers in his house were all dated for November 12th, and in his drawers we found Christmas cards written in a shaky hand for my cousins and sister – mine, simply with “REBE” at the top.
He was found on the 5th of December.
It breaks my heart to think of the pain he must have been in, and the fact that he didn’t ask for help. The fact that it took nearly a month to discover him, and that in his last days he still thought and found the strength to write Christmas cards for us.
Certain members of my family argued about tedious things and money – who gets his car? What about that lovely old record player? And I just distracted myself. I worked. I did my coursework and I got a Christmas job. I did what I always do, and still do today – and blocked it out, ignored it as if that would make it all go away.
I think that this is why, when the fourth death came; I struggled.
She was a year younger than me and had her whole life ahead of her, and she was taken by Meningitis – a virus that doesn’t care who it is attacking.
She was kind, beautiful, clever, musical, and worshipped.
This time, I didn’t have the extreme personal connection that I had with my great uncle. I didn’t have all of the memories to remember, I just had the feeling of sadness which was among my school and friends that knew her. The whole community came together and to date, twenty two thousand pounds has been raised for Meningitis charities in her memory. I think part of the reason why I was so effected by her death was because there were no distractions, and I used this opportunity to grieve for all of the deaths in the past month of people that had played some part in my life – causing it to be one of the hardest, saddest, and darkest times in my life to date. The fact that this cruel death happened to someone so full of life and potential was something else that shocked me to the core. She was doing her mocks for her GCSE’s, and, thinking that she merely had a cold, left the house one morning to never return there. She was taken to hospital from school in an ambulance on the Friday, and after many apparent blunders, was moved to the ICU at another hospital, and died on the Sunday.
I still sometimes cry when I think about her, think about everything she still had to live for. Her expectations, plans, hopes and dreams. I vowed last year that I would start living my life a lot more because she didn’t get to, yet I feel a year on that I haven’t made any of the great improvements I had anticipated. However, I am still here – and it is never too late to make these changes.
The death of someone so young, so similar to me in terms of background, age and history makes me question how people would react if I were to die. Makes me think what people would say. How would I be remembered? Would I be remembered at all? It motivates me, and crushes me at once.
I realise that the tone of this post is cold, sterile and depressive – which I think is because I am finally coming to terms with it, yet I still cannot completely convey this. It has taken me a whole year to put down into words what has happened and to start discussing how I feel. If anybody is reading this – I apologise. This year I am going to make these positive changes – for the people that I have lost, and for myself.
I know there will be tough days – including tomorrow, but I am going to try to find the inner strength to plough on through them. I am determined to make 2015 the very best it can be, and I wish anybody reading this exactly the same – because you deserve it.
Thank you to everyone and anyone who has made my 2014 (and my life so far), the adventure it’s been. I love you – and to those I have lost, I miss you, and I hope you are all dancing up there. I will see you one day and embarrass you with my awful dad dancing.