This weekend I traveled to Northern Ireland with Ewan to be with my ‘cancer bestie’ Carol who is now in a hospice living out her days with late stage ovarian cancer.
It was an honour to sit with someone in both life and in death. When we shy away from our true emotions, from vulnerability or from the permission to be authentic, we shy away from truly living, loving and connecting.
By sitting with our emotions, in all their glorious realness (however hard that may be), we enable magic to unfold.
I gave myself permission to sit with the discomfort and pain of loss, of grief, of sadness and, in doing so, to feel the true beauty and warmth of love, connection and kindness.
I truly believe that, when done right, death can be as beautiful as life…I’m just trying to find out what ‘when done right’ looks like…
In each moment we have the opportunity to gift those around us with love, connection and the opportunity to express their needs, hopes and fears.
I’ve come to realise that in the final moments of a life, this is the gift the living can give the dying and also that the dying can give the living.
There is nothing more precious, in any moment, or any interaction, than truly connecting and sitting with the reality of the other person’s heart.
When I arrived at the hospice I got straight in Carol’s bed with her and we had a fantastic 3 hour blether.
I will not fear death. I will look her in the eye and know that she holds as much compassion, connection and love as life does…if not more.
On my last night I recorded a very special podcast with Carol, while she lay in her hospice bed.
Afterwards I had to say goodbye to her knowing that I will never see her again.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
You see, Carol is dying from stage three ovarian cancer and, while we (of course!) don’t know the date she (or any of us) will die, because she lives in Northern Ireland and I live in Scotland I know I won’t be able to make the trip again…especially while I am receiving chemotherapy for the same disease myself.
As I drove away, my heart broken, I reflected on how often I take for granted that I will see someone again. You see, while I know I won’t see Carol again, I never know I ‘will’ see anyone else in my life again. I reflected on myself saying goodbye in a rush, dashing away, not always lingering to hear my loved ones words, to hold them a little longer, to entwine our fingers, to kiss their cheek, to hold them close for just one more second…
…all the things I did with Carol as I fought back the inevitable, love filled, tears from cascading down my cheeks as soon as I left the room…
We never know what tomorrow holds. Cherish your loved ones today. This is what Carol taught me.
Above all, she taught me that, in the end, all that matters is love. Life really is that simple.
Please have a listen to our conversation and share it with others…I promise Carol will help you to live a more meaningful and loved filled life through her words.
If you are lost, scared, stressed, anxious, curious about life and death or if you just wonder if there is more to life than what you’ve previously been told…then this is the conversation for you xxx
Carol wanted to take the opportunity to record an episode for my podcast to help others by breaking down some of the stigma and fear around death, dying and end of life care.
But don’t for a second think that this episode is sad or depressing. Carol, in typical Northern Irish style will have you laughing and reflecting as she shares her insights into life and love and what really matters most.
What makes this episode so special is it is not only rare to get access to this personal insight into end of life care but it rarer still that the interviewer is friends with and dearly loves and cares for the interviewee.
However, what makes this episode even more unique is that I am also living with the same disease as Carol and know that, one day, I too will be lying in a hospice bed receiving similar end of life care that she is receiving now.
For the past four years Carol and I have developed an unshakable bond through our shared disease as we have supported one another through the highs and lows of living with late stage cancer with tears, laughter and very dark sense of humour.
I struggle to imagine a world without her in it and I will be forever grateful to all she has guided and supported me through. I am so grateful to Carol that she has gifted you all this beautiful insight into her life and her death. May her words lift your spirit and guide you on with a heart filled with love.
I know that my world will always be brighter because Carol was in it.
I love you Carol. Always.
Thank you for everything.xxx