I've always been a lover of adventure and an unshakeable optimist. However, seven years ago, after the death of my daughter Jasmine, aged 39, all this changed. My sadness grew and grew until it became a tsunami. Deep sorrow and despair were bed-fellows. Rather than raging at others, I took it off to the lake. Fishermen I hadn't noticed packed up their kit and scurried away. I was like a mad woman.
I didn't want to live, because as far as I was concerned, I had nothing to live for.
Physical pains appeared in my lungs and around my heart. In fact, my body hurt. Even yoga and deep breathing didn't seem to help. This went on for a number of months. It was then I decided to make an appointment with my G.P. and asked to be referred for a chest X-ray. If, like my daughter, I had cancer in my lungs, then I wanted to know how much longer I had got.
It was eerie going back to the same hospital where I had taken Jasmine for her X-ray. I almost bottled out. Taking a deep breath in, I went in. After the X-ray I was shown into the same room where my daughter and I had sat, awaiting her X-ray results. The doctor was young. He picked up the X-ray and held it up to the light. My heart was going mad in my chest. I just wished he would hurry up and give me the dire news. I also wished I had someone with me, as I would surely need a shoulder to cry on.
He swivelled his chair round to face me. His eyes were soft and kind.
“Yo've nothing to worry about. Your lungs are as clear as the blue skies we enjoyed earlier in the week.”
I think my mouth was gaping open. He laughed.
“Were you expecting bad news?”
“Well, yes, I suppose I was.”
What surprised me more than anything, was how HUGE my sense of relief was. I was SO relieved to be told that I was not even unwell, and moreover, I certainly wasn't dying. It was then I realised how precious my life was. Precious. Like a gemstone. Does it take a clear chest X-ray when you don't want to live, to bring you back to life? Apparently, it does. My life had been handed back to me, and I was being asked whether I really wanted it. I can't remember when I last felt so alive. I had never considered whether my life had value or not. I think I had taken it all for granted.
The doctor must have thought I would be there forever, because he got up and opened the door for me. I smiled and thanked him, and almost skipped along the length of the corridor.
“Jasmine, I really do want to live. What a great feeling.”
As I stepped out into the car park the clouds parted and little shafts of sunlight broke through. A tiny sunbeam landed on my car.
The aches and pains of grief lasted several more weeks, then little by little they took their leave. My body and I were turning a corner, and a glimmer of light beckoned me on.
© Patsy Freeman 2021-07-13