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Take Nothing For Granted

All my friendships are unique. Some I see a lot and it may be fairly superficial, but trusted. Some I may see less frequently but it is deep. I have several friendships that are decades old, and have survived several continents, life changes, children growing up and other things that come our way.

This morning, my heart grew heavier when I read the WhatsApp from a friend I had heard from the previous evening, replied to at length, and then decided to wait until morning before opening her reply.

Sometimes, it seems life just puts a brick wall in front of you as you are running along.

My friend’s husband, who is also my friend, has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. You just don’t see it coming. His prognosis is about two and a half years, and at some point he will become completely helpless.

I once knew a teacher in the last stages of MND. He travelled in a camper van on a type of gurney. I was too young to realise the indignities he suffered as a man. I do now.

I was once driven to Gatwick airport by a close friend who had been lent a vehicle. It was a van all kitted out with bed, TV, fridge, and a few other comforts. It belonged to a godson of Prince Philip, who had advanced MS. All he could move was a thumb. My friend was one of his private nurses. She had also nursed Jacqueline Dupres, the famous cellist who died of MS.

I know the heartbreak of losing a much loved family member slowly as disease progresses. It is a relentless grieving, the death of expectations. The deterioration is torture to observe.

We must live life on life’s terms.

That is to say that we learn to accept what we cannot change, and have gratitude for the joys that come our way. A daffodil opening gives me joy,watching a ladybug make it’s way along a stem. The sun catching on water, the bright spinnakers of yachts, birdsong. There are so many things to be grateful for.Today, another friend helped me sort through the family collection of coats that are no longer needed. We talk a lot, she more than me, and she replies to to every single text. This at times drives me nuts but my affection for her is enough to not want to be around her.

Live each day in the moment. Be present. Even when you need a nap, enjoy that nap. Time is not wasted if it is blessing you, helping another, making memories. Laugh when it’s good to laugh. Weep with others who are weeping.

There is a season for everything.

Don’t let yourself down. Stay true to your personal convictions. Tell the truth to your own hurt- that you were wrong, that you did a thing. I don’t mean confessing everything like some blurb, but owning up and taking responsibility when it matters.

Get out there and protest about racism, make changes in your lifestyle to preserve the planet. Ask your friends to do that too, and your family. Plant plants, plant trees, don’t use plastic.

Be ready to leave this earth knowing you are at peace. That although there’s stuff you haven’t done yet, you’ve done good.

We can take nothing for granted. Money can be defrauded from us, homes can be destroyed by fire or storm or earthquake. Health is a precious gift and must be maintained and nurtured.

Our health is mostly determined by our genes. We have a huge gene pool of ancestors. Some genes are faulty and it’s pure chance which ones you inherit. But having a faulty gene doesn’t mean you are bound to get a certain disease, it just means you are predisposed to developing it. There are diseases which are determined by genes and the children of two certain people will have a one in four chance of having it.

Don’t corrupt your body with drugs and smoking. Drink in moderation. Don’t overdo coffee, skip the soda. Drink lots of water.

Love and be kind at all times. You don’t know the struggles others are going through. Smile at strangers, it may be the only smile they get that day. Give a dime to the person ahead of you who is short of change. A young woman was raped and beaten because she didn’t have the right amount of change to buy a bus ticket. People heard her saying she had no other way to get home.

Be soft, not terse. When people tread on your grief and pain, mark it up to experience and be less vulnerable with them. Trust is hard to earn but easy to lose.

Live well. Have character. Principles. Morals. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Speak up for others. Be merciful, because you may need it one day. Treat everyone with respect. Keep short accounts on quarrels, forgive easily even when it costs a lot.

Keep sex special. Don’t treat it like a shoe. Never use anyone sexually. That’s so hurtful for the other one. Sex is not a transaction.

Take nothing for granted. One day it may have all changed.

Published in Grab A Slice