Where it started

A list going round on Facebook, February 2016: "which of these items have you experienced" etc. Some yes, some no, some didn't interest me. However, it put some ideas into my head, and I figured it was time I followed some of my friends in committing them to (virtual) paper. And then trying some of them out. The first challenge was undertaken on 1 March 2016, and I have no intention of ever completing the list: the more I tick off, the more I'll add.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Reasons: for Clare

In May 2016 I spent a superb weekend with friends. We took a fairly long (12 mile) walk through the beautiful Wiltshire countryside; spent the night under canvas; shared chat and laughter and information and life stories.

I shared this experience with a particularly good friend who lived nearby. Clare and I had been planning to get together for months (she was in Oxfordshire, I in Norfolk), and this seemed a great opportunity. We took a full weekend for me to share not only the above walk, but also a magical day in the wonderful city of Bath with Trudy, fellow founder of APDO, of which Clare was a highly active and vital member. Such happy days.

I couldn't have known that this was the last time I was to see Clare. She was troubled by illness across that summer, and had several stays in hospital and an operation. Her positive attitude throughout reassured her many friends and professional colleagues that she was on the road to recovery. However, in early November, I received a devastating message from her, letting me know that she had been diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer, and that she might have "as little as six months". (In the event, it was less than two months.) Just at that time, I was on a course with the Mother Nature's Diet group, many of whom had met Clare on that wonderful May weekend.

Clare continued to be in touch with many friends, sharing and creating experiences with her loved ones, never once showing fear or anger or self-pity. Her glowing personality continued to shine through as she shared love with us all.

I planned to visit her in mid December, and was saddened to hear a few days beforehand from her lovely son, saying that visits were no longer possible from any but immediate family. I consoled myself with the memory of that beautiful few days in the May sunshine, enjoying the open air and friends and exercise and food and companionship, and knowing that this would remain with me.

Clare passed away on the penultimate day of 2016. In just over 59 years, she had achieved more and given more love and happiness than many do in a further two or three decades.

On Thursday 2 February, I met with many of Clare's friends and family, including five other members of APDO, to celebrate her life.

Her End of Life Celebrations Fund - which sadly she had too little time to make much use of - has been reinvented, as per her wishes, as Clare's Legacy Fund, intended to help people at a crossroads in their life.

There is no greater reason for continuing my Life List activities - and, indeed, all my life activities - than the pursuit of love. As Clare said in her message to me about her diagnosis, "It's all so simple really when it comes down to it, love really is the only thing that matters. And living life to the full, which I intend to do for whatever time I have left."

I turned 54 years old just a week after Clare's death at the age of 59. I may reach her age, or not; I may surpass it by weeks or years or decades. None of that matters. What matters is what I do with each minute, each hour, each day that I am granted.

Rest in peace, beloved Clare. Your friendship was the greatest gift, and your example the finest inspiration. Thank you.

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