Mortality is a funny thing, just as our media and the British Medical Council like to promote stories that a healthy life will stop you dying young the veneer is stripped away. In the same way that the gold days of Autumn make the land look full of summer vigour before the first storms strip the leaves from the trees. Two things have hammered this message home over the past couple of weeks.
'About Jenn' appeared on my MTB forum a couple of weeks ago. She's an MTB'er and writer for the MTB magazine I subscribe to, I don't know her but I know of her via mutual acquaintance and, when she lived in Sussex, we used to pass each other and give each other a nod on an occasional basis. Mostly when one of us was taking the long way home on our cycle commutes to/from work. She is a local legend, the woman who climbed the Clayton bridleway uphill to the Jack & Jill on a singlespeed MTB without stopping. The woman who would have broken The Great Divide record but for spending 2 days in hospital with a serious illness caught from some dodgy water.Great Divide Race. Given that this English singlespeeder who I had never heard of before last month is my new hero, I was really happy to hear she finished " From here. She was my local hero too and lived the MTB'ers dream.
'About Jenn' told how she's spent the last year diagnosed but living life normally and has now given up work to enter a hospice. She's younger & fitter than me, has had a better healthy vegetarian lifestyle than me, without smoking, and she is dying from lung cancer. It shows how random life can be and that this veneer of control that ourselves and our institutions like to promote is, to quite a large extent, an illusion. You never know when your winter storm will come.
The second thing that happened is I got ill, just a cold, but a couple of days of barely being able to breathe shows that my body is aging, autumnal as I move to being a 50 year old sage next year. Jenn's stoic strength over the past year enabled her to enjoy happy gold days before her strength was sapped by illness. It is a lesson to us all that the autumnal gold days should be seized and enjoyed with passion. Without recrimination or regret about what could or should have been,