Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

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Reflections on stupidity

Posted by Oli on Thursday 23rd October, 2008

I couldn’t sleep tonight, so I got myself up to check my emails, which have been neglected in the flurry of activity that included a double-shift at the Theatre today, and received a piece of news I’ve been dreading for a while.

An old friend of mine from the CF community lost her fight after a huge battle tonight.  She’d been in intensive care under sedation for a while and tonight she could no longer keep up the battle.

For reasons I found hard to fathom and now even harder to accept, her death has hit me so much harder than I ever thought it would.

Earlier this year, she gave birth to a son she’s wanted all of her life – a life which even ignoring CF has been tempestuous to say the least.  When she announced she was pregnant, I was really, really angry.  Discounting the numerous and serious risks posed to any mother with CF bearing a child, I felt it was a supremely selfish action to fulfill her own ideals without considering whether or not it was in the best interests of a child who could be left without a mother.

Hearing of her death tonight, all I’ve been able to think about is that I’ve not spoken to her in over a year, such was the strength of my feeling.

But you know what?  Who am I to judge?  Who am I to say whether someone should do the things they want to do, whether it’s irresponsible, inadvisable or selfish?  It’s not my place to suggest any of those things and it’s even more upsetting that I’ve let it cause such a rift.

I never even expressed my feelings to her – I never told her my opinions.  Why?  I honestly don’t know.  I guess I didn’t want to seem judgemental or to upset her, but surely I should have taken that as a warning sign that my “opinions” were unjustified and, frankly, just plain wrong.

“Life is for living” is the motto of another good friend of mine and we should all be living the life we want to live.  If I’ve learned one thing from my struggles over the last few years, it’s that the cliché of precious life encouraging a “live for the day” attitude is absolutely true.

I can’t explain the depth of regret I feel for not reaching out to T since the birth of her son, for not dropping the grudge or whatever you wish to call it.  For not making the effort to see if she needed my support, or even simply sending my congratulations.

Parenthood for PWCF is a very emotive subject and I’m all too aware that this post may well upset a few people.  But it’s something I feel a desperate need to explain, as it’s made me realise how wrong I have been and how incorrect it is of me to stand in judgement of the way other people live their lives.  I’ve always prided myself on being open, honest and – ironically – non-judgmental, but T’s death has shown me how I gloss over the cracks I don’t wish to see.

In a way, I feel I deserve the ire that’s bound to come my way – it would be, I suppose, a form of catharsis, helping me cement the knowledge that I should have kept a closer check on myself and remind me for the future that nothing is worth losing a friendship over and certainly not something that’s based on “opinions” or “feelings”.

Tor, I wish I could have said all of this to you.  I wish I could have sat down with you, laughed and giggled again, met E and L and told you how sorry I was that I let this get in the way.  I wish I could take back the last 18 months and keep in touch, share your joy in motherhood and see your smiling face again.

All I hope now is that, somewhere, you can read this and hear my prayers and find it in yourself to offer me forgiveness.  When I come up there to join you, the first round’s on me.

No, b*llocks to that – they’re all on me.

Breath easy, angel, smile down on us all.


15 Responses to “Reflections on stupidity”

  1. Emily said

    Massive hugs at this sad time hon…please don’t beat yourself up. Just think about the kind of person she was – is that really what she’d want you to be feeling/doing? Will email you. Big big hugs Chuck xx

  2. Anonymous said

    No one should judge how anyone else leads their life – it is their’s to do with whatever or however they wish. Having a child was Toria’s wish and she was happy with that decision. She WILL live on through Edward.

  3. Jacqui said

    I’m sorry for your loss,Oli. Sending you warm wishes. X

  4. Jacqui said

    I’m sorry for your loss,Oli. Sending warm wishes. X

  5. Audrey said

    Remember the good times. Hugs..

  6. Jac said

    Thinking of you x

  7. suzie said

    She will definitley hear your words Oli, and if from this day on you live by what you have said, then I’m sure she will smile, knowing that it was through her you never judged anyone again.

    You’ve spoken to T and I’m sure she would want you to ‘live it to the full’ so do that for her. Regrets are allowed, but only for a moment, to carry them with you is not what she would want.

    Big (((HUG)))

  8. Holly said

    Big hugs, thinking of you x

  9. Abby said

    I think that’s a really brave post Oli, it’s not easy to admit when we think we’ve been wrong.

    It is a difficult subject and I think we can all understand your feelings on it and hers too. I’m sure she still appreciated the friendship you had as I know what a good friend you’ve been to Em and others.

    Am thinking of you and all her friends and family

  10. Alaistair said

    So sorry for the loss of your friend……

  11. anon said

    Oli thinking of you. T’s death has hit even those of us who didn,t know her hard and I know it must have been harder on you so so much harder. Toria I’m sure will be forgiving you and also I’m sure would have understood the reasons behind your anger. I know from a post on her blog some months ago before your new lungs that she loved you deeply.

  12. Dan said

    Oli, I just want to say that having had the privilege to have got to know Toria fairly well over the last 4 years or so I would feel it was safe to say she would not want you to be holding on to any guilt over this issue. She would have understood your reasoning behind your feelings, but she would always choose to live for now and to go with what we knew we had and she would know that in you, deep down she had a true friend.

  13. anon said

    I don’t know you but have followed your blog. I was so angry when my sister (wcf)announced her pregnancy – my motives were much more selfish though – I didn’t want to lose her any sooner than we had to. Fortunately she doesn’t know how I felt and she never will. It was nice to read your honest account of it …

  14. Oli, I have been following your blog for a while now although this is my first post. I think that it was incredibly brave of you to write this post and I also think it was essential. We often have feelings about other people’s decisions on what they do with their life but because we love them we don’t want to hurt them by voicing them. The dilemma comes when that person is no longer alive, you feel guilty, you look back and see things that you maybe should of done or said. The most important thing is to voice these feelings because otherwise they will fester inside of you.
    I never met Toria, but I have read some of her blog and from the way she comes across I don’t think she would want you to beat yourself up.

  15. Brian said

    Very good post. Hope to see a lot more great posts in the near future.

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