Last Saturday someone I know, lets call him Jack, died, aged 68, of cancer, that was first diagnosed 30 years previously with the profound words of the Doctor, "you maybe have three months to live."
In my home town Jack become well known because he held cancer at bay for 30 years, being the human guinea pig for bone marrow transplants, plus any hair brained scheme to defeat cancer. I remember seeing articles where he was featured as a glowing testimonial to the possibilities of modern science in the war against cancer.
When I was much younger, 68 was OLD... so I think he lived a long and fruitful life. But now when 80 is the new 60, the common sentiment among his tribe is that he died too young.
I have a much different view of this man. All those years ago we went on family holidays as a group, my family and maybe another 5 families... a huge tribe. And when I was looking for a holiday where everything was sedate, Jack and the other men in the group, lived as if it were their last days.
I remember being so scared during a hell raising trip in a four wheel drive vehicle through bush at break neck speed, and seeing another vehicle coming in the opposite direction at a similar speed, that I was sure my days were over.
Also I remember going fishing at night, catching a huge fish moments into the trip but waiting another 8 hours to catch another. The result was being stranded until midday, because the tide went out and the boat was miles up a coastal river that was too shallow to allow the boat to float back to the mouth of the river.
Apart from myself, everyone though these moments were part of an amazing adventure lead by Jack, their spiritual leader who was living as if it were his last day on earth, after all, he had terminal cancer.
My choice was that this need to experience near death on a regular basis wasn't my ideal way of how to spend holidays, and I stopped going on this annual pilgrimage of hedonistic pleasure.
Observing from afar, Jack indulged his fantasies with a bright yellow Ferrari, skiing holidays in Japan, trips to F1 with his followers and I am sure other hell rising adventures because he had been dealt his "I am out of here" card by the doctor.
All of this came flooding back when I was reading the memorial notices in the local paper and one included the line: "I will always remember our holidays... they were just amazing."
And reflecting on how I now feel, I was brave enough to say to my wife, "I never liked him" and now I realise that life should be lived as if it will go on forever, and every moment deserves to be savoured not remembered in terror. I am looking forward to the next 20 years with eyes open in expectation of being amazed.