Some time ago I received a text from my friend explaining he only had weeks to live. It took me by surprise; I was both shocked and upset. He had let me know previously that he was accepted into a drug trial and when I discussed it with him he seemed apprehensive but excited. The trial had some encouraging results in America, so when I received the message telling me that he was now ineligible for the trial, I felt sad and worried about his ongoing struggle. He had been diagnosed with cancer about two and a half years before that. We had numerous discussions about cancer and treatment; my struggle with cancer was different and luckily mine was something that could be treated with an eventual positive outcome. However we could still connect with each other’s experiences and talk about treatments, concerns, fears, and positivity.
About three weeks later I got the email from his partner explaining that he had passed away. Throughout this period I tried to get in touch with him however the phone was never answered and I was too late. When I texted him asking if he was up for visitors, his partner replied telling me that he was gravely ill. I didn’t want to impose further, through my own experience with cancer I could sympathise with how hard and often tiring it can be repeating the same news.
His funeral service was lovely and I learned more about my friend on this day. I find with the majority of funerals I have been to I always tend to learn something new about my loved one – whether this is the celebrant’s doing or a family members. When I have been conducting a funeral myself, I always learn something new about the deceased. I also love being reminded of the joy that the deceased has brought in the past and will continue to in the future to their loved ones. Recently at my friends funeral I witnessed the love that people felt for him and to me that says a lot about a person.
After the service his partner apologised to me, for a moment I was shocked and not sure what she meant. She explained he had wanted me to conduct his service, and this had slipped her mind until she had seen one of my business cards around the house. I understood that it must be a horrendous and terrible time for her and told her that the service was lovely regardless. However, I was quite sad. I felt that I could have honoured my friend’s wishes by conducting the service. It was good of her to let me know and I felt privileged that he had trusted me to conduct his service. When I discussed this with my husband afterwards, he suggested that maybe she mentioned it to me as a way of apologising to him for it slipping her mind. Although I did not get to conduct his funeral, I will continue to honour and remember all things he taught me in life.