Wednesday 19 August 2015

Thought Picnic: From the midst of my considered mortality

A considered mortality
Three years ago yesterday, I boarded a plane from the Netherlands after a 147-month sojourn. I left a life completely shorn of everything but with a slight possibility, one of hope and some dignity, the little left.
Days before I left, I wrote an email to six of my closest friends, I also saw them as my pallbearers; about my plans to return to England, bruised, vulnerable and also with a dying wish, instructions given as to where I will like to be buried.
That last paragraph of that email was stark and shocking for some of my friends to read, some even thought I have completely given up. There were many reasons for giving up if I wanted to, I did not, I was 3 years after a cancer diagnosis and the long bushy tail of cancer was wagging the dog of my life. It was my considered mortality in the midst my particular reality.
A start again
Yet, in the contemplation of an end laid the possibility of a new beginning, how that would become I had no inkling of, but leaving the Netherlands was one that was forced upon me by circumstances well beyond my control.
I arrived in the UK, got a new phone number, updated my resume and posted it to as many agencies as I could find. Within 6 days of my arrival, I had interviewed for and secured a job that was to start in 3 weeks travelling to 26 countries in Europe and North Africa. It was promising, interesting and exciting.
The team met up at London Heathrow and made for France with schedules already in place for Germany and Switzerland. In the end, we only did 4 weeks in France before the whole project was canned. It was a hard blow and it took another few months before another good opportunity came.
That other untold story
The business of settling back in the UK was not easy, you need a proof of address to open bank accounts, to secure long-term jobs, to find a home and to do much else. One was in a Catch-22 situation because there is no template or manual for resettling back in the UK. If not for all sorts of technicalities, good fortune, familial and friendly support along with the story that had become one of the defining elements of my life, I might well have gone to make clear plans for eternal repose.
I reflect today on the story, of return, of jobs, of joblessness, of plenty and of lack, of shelter and the threat of homelessness, of brothers and sisters with large bosoms of kindness and compassion, of friends who never let a hair of my head fall to the ground, of a mentor, one of my six friends who has since passed on.
Thank you for a wonderful life
It was hard and difficult, yet I cannot deny, it is also a wonderful life. Even if I am nowhere near where I once was, I am grateful for mercies great and small, triumphs to whisper and ones to shout about, for where there is life, there is hope. Even is my spirituality leaves me with more questions than I have had answers, a little voice in me still cries out with Christian ululation – To God be the glory.
Thank you for being here, near and where I have needed help, support, encouragement, vision, comfort, advice, love and fun.

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