Late Fragments by Kate Gross

I stumbled upon Kate’s blog a few months ago and was saddened to read of her illness. I think it makes it sadder when the world loses someone who was doing so much for it. In her mid 20’s, Kate was working at No. 10 Downing Street with Tony Blair followed by Gordon Brown, as their personal secretary’s. She then went on to be CEO of the Africa Governance Initiative of which Tony Blair is a patron.

She passed away on Christmas day but what makes her story even more tragic is it happened 10 minutes before her 5 year old twin boys came running in to ask “Is it morning?” Earlier this month her book Late Fragments was published and I immediately ordered a copy which I practically devoured in one sitting.

You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking this is a book about cancer and in many ways of course it is (it’s the reason she writes the book). It tells of Kate’s story and how she deals with knowing death is coming knocking at her door. But to me it’s also a book about life. The book is filled with one liners that make you sit up and think. When asked by someone “What is the best thing cancer has given you?” her response was “a feeling of being alive, awake”.

It reminds you to really live your days, make the most of your life and follow your heart. She wrote the book for her two “knights” whom she hopes will one day read it and know her a bit better.

This book will bring you to tears but it will also raise your spirits. From the little I’ve read about Kate and the work she did, I think this was exactly the kind of reaction she was hoping for.

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Life and Death

I attended my mom’s uncles funeral today. He’d been ill for a while and passed away 2 days ago at a little over 80 years old. I wasn’t particularly close in the last few years but I do have memories of him growing up and wanted to pay my respect to the family.

I’ve had many conversations about life and death with my family and friends. I do believe that we live more than once, although I like to justify doing certain things in my life by saying #yolo (You Only Live Once). But that doesn’t take away from the sadness felt at a funeral. Because although the soul lives on, the person you love, respect, admire and
lean on, has gone. No more conversations, laughter and smiles. No more jokes, memories and experiences.

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As morbid as it sounds, I have previously thought about the sort of funeral I’d like. It’s ironic because when it actually comes down to it, it won’t really make any difference to my life. Sitting at the funeral today also brought home what really matters. I have a lot on my plate at the moment and often find myself frustrated at the actions of another. I’ve always chosen to see the positive side of things but lately I feel like life’s experiences have made me cynical. And that’s not the type of person I am or would like to be.

Listening to the memories shared by the family today got me thinking of how I’d like to be remembered. Most importantly, how I’d want my son to remember me. I feel like social websites play such a big part in our lives these days and eventually what we share on social sites will be available for our children to read/see.

A few years ago I read the obituary of someone who is still young and alive. I suppose she’d written it because it’s a good way to think about how you’d like to be remembered and also what you’d like to achieve in your life. It gives you a future plan and something to literally live up to.

So I’m off to think about how I’d like to be remembered. Is it something you’ve thought about?

When it’s time, it’s time…

I woke up to some very sad news today. A close friends brother in law passed away in a car accident last night. It’s not that I knew him (I’d met him once a few years ago) but he left behind a wife and 4 year old son. What saddens me is the family would never have got to say goodbye. It was so sudden.

Later in the morning I read a headline about Michael Schumacher. Michael who is one of the worlds best race car drivers has been in an induced coma for over 2 months after suffering from a head injury while skiing in the French alps and chances of him making a full recovery are slim. He’s spent years driving Formula 1 cars and yet what’s hurt him is not racing but actually just going on holiday.

Days like this remind me how much I have to be grateful for and also reiterate to me how important it is to be happy. To live a life that brings me joy through my days. To let go of negativity in my life and replace it with happiness – be it people, thoughts or situations.

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I truly believe God has a plan for all of us. As morbid as it sounds, we don’t know how long we’re going to be around for. Our birth and our death are the only things we can’t plan. What we can choose is how to spend the days in between.

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