In 2010 Philip was diagnosed
with stomach cancer
Neither of us knew anything about end-of-life plans, but we did know about wills. A few months after the diagnosis, we got our wills amended. It felt theoretical because he had been given a fairly good prognosis, if the operation was successful (which of course we felt sure it would be).
But it wasn’t successful. They did not get all the cancer out, and so we were faced with the fact that he was going to die, and it was going to be sooner than later.
During this time, we received an email from a friend, Barbara. She insisted we answer the long list of questions in it, stuff like ‘what kind of coffin do you want?’, ‘how do you want your body dressed?’ and ‘what are your passwords? ‘ – I mean, really specific things.
We put it off.
Another email arrived.
We put it off again, neither of us willing to face up to the bluntness of the questions.
Yet another email arrived.
Finally, I told Philip we needed to just answer the darn things and get her off our back.
We sat up in bed one Saturday morning with the laptop. I asked him the questions and he gave me his answers. Imagine our surprise when an hour or two in we realized we were quite enjoying ourselves! And by the end of the morning we felt a distinct sense of satisfaction and achievement, and immensely close and loving. So odd – we were discussing his death but the love that this unleashed that weekend was enormous. We put the list away and rarely referred to it again.