A week last Friday my local butcher Pete had a heart attack behind his counter. The open-heart surgery went well but he kept fitting when they tried to bring him out of the induced coma and, last weekend, they decided to turn off his life support to let him fade away.
Pete was the loveliest man – he used to get me an ox heart from Smithfield (meat) Market every week, for Charlie. His wife, daughter and mate of 20-odd years (who I thought was his brother) worked in the shop at weekends. Proper pillar of the community – been there for years – fantastic quality meat – East End prices not gentrified prices. In his early 60s – not planning on retiring for a good few years – was buying a new, low-emissions van. Effectively dead within a heartbeat.
A bit like my lovely friend Dot, whose heart gave way one Sunday morning less than two years ago. In her early 50s. Literally dead within a heartbeat.
Lorraine, one of the local dog walkers died just before Christmas, just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. It can’t have been more than two months. Mid 50s, at a guess.
My Dad, who died within 10 months of being diagnosed with cancer at 55. Which is only seven and a half years older than I am now.
Clearly, I’m feeling my own mortality. Especially after my two, pre-Christmas stints in hospital, sharing bays with some seriously ill people. And because I can’t exercise at the moment, which I hate.
But more than that, I’m feeling how important it is to live life. To know what we want and go for it. To protect our physical and mental health by eating and drinking healthily, keeping fit, knowing when to walk away from a shitty job or a relationship that’s turned sour and is beyond saving. And so on.
RIP Pete. You were a lovely man and I really liked you, and our chats, and Charlie and I will miss you.
Everyone else: we have so little time here that we owe it to ourselves to make the most of it.
#StopProcastinating #StopDithering #GetOnWithIt
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