19/03/2023 by Dave Robson 0 Comments
Our miraculous gift called life
Sometimes we don't realise who we miss until they've gone
The other week I went to the funeral of my cousin Nicholas and I still can’t get it out of my mind. It’s as if my whole brain is occupied with the fact that he died suddenly and unexpectedly, coupled with images of the funeral.
It was a stark reminder to live our best lives while we are firmly here on this planet, experiencing the incredibly miraculous gift we have been given called life, and with this in mind, I’d like to share a story from our childhood from which, I hope, some of us might learn something of value. Here we go...
When I was about seven years old and cousin Nicholas was about twelve, our parents took us on holiday together to a seaside holiday resort called La Baule in southern Brittany.
Shortly before we went I had been given a bright blue and orange rubber dinghy, which to me was utterly beautiful and very, very exciting. By that age I was already aware that I was developing an obsession with boats and boating and I would take any opportunity to go into the sea in anything that would float.
One morning we all went to the beach and inflated my new pride and joy, and Nicholas and I played in it, always careful to stay within the surf line. After a while we pulled it up onto the beach and spent a while resting and talking to the others on the golden sands.
After a while I looked round and realised that Nicholas was gone and the dinghy was nowhere to be seen. It didn’t take too many powers of deduction to realise that he had taken the dinghy and gone into the sea with it. Alarm and concern! Everyone on the beach was by now scanning the horizon and after a few minutes someone spotted a tiny black blob just short of the point where the curvature of the earth met the sky! That must be Nicholas in the dinghy, we all concluded. But what to do…?
Fortunately a man we’d befriended was a very strong swimmer and he volunteered to go and get him, and before we could even discuss the matter he was running down the beach, splish splash into the water, a dive forward and he was swimming like a dolphin. On and on he went while we stood helplessly on the beach watching, watching the rescue.
Everyone was rooting for Nicholas – would he be alright, would he drown, would he survive, etc? But I was far more worried about my dinghy – would I ever see it again? And I was angry – how dare he take my dinghy and put it at risk without even asking my permission! And though I didn’t let on, I couldn’t have cared less about Nicholas. It was the dinghy I was worried about.
This incredibly narcissistic reaction, I realised later in life, was because I was only seven years old or thereabouts, and I didn’t know any better. I was overcome with rage! That was all I knew. Ever since that time Nicholas and I had a sort of OK relationship but we were never particularly close, and as we grew up we inhabited totally different worlds.
That’s why I was astonished to find that his recent death really knocked me for six and it took me a few days to understand why I felt something in me had been torn away, something of me was missing.
Eventually I was able to see it was because he was part of my family, and my generation of my family, and although I hardly ever gave him a second thought in day-to-day life, I loved him much more than I ever realised.
Wow, that was a very salutary lightbulb moment!
Leave a comment