Many of us will have encountered loss. You’re likely to have had to say goodbye to a loved one and experienced the hurt that grief entails. Grief is a natural reaction to death, and the circle of life is well known, however it is never easy to come to terms with the pain of loss.
I wanted to tell you about my friend, Verity, who died in 2015, aged 42 years old. We met at a juicing retreat in Turkey only three years earlier, in the back of a minibus. Random, I know! We were both travelling with a friend and quickly become a band of four. We laughed and bonded over green juice! Verity had previously been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was doing all she could to become healthy and well. Her knowledge about nutrition and cancer treatments was incredible. Her attitude to life was inspiring.
One activity we undertook at the retreat was visualising where we wanted to see ourselves in 5 years’ time. I was partnered with Verity so we could share our secret desires. I declared that I wanted to have written a children’s bereavement support book. Verity reluctantly and quietly shared that she wanted to be alive. We hugged as music played around us, just taking in that moment. It put things into perspective for me very quickly and, sadly, her wish didn’t come true. Her death was premature, and she left behind a family who loved her dearly. She had to leave behind her very young daughter and loving husband, parents and friends. I often recall that visualising moment with tears in my eyes, especially when I hear the song that was played. Verity’s hopes didn’t seem too much to ask for.
A couple of years later, Verity and I spoke about her illness and the subject of death and the potential impact on her daughter. I made a promise to always be around if her gorgeous little 5-year-old ever needed bereavement support. It was the least I could do. Verity understood that her daughter would probably struggle at times throughout her life, having to come to terms with the loss of her beloved mummy at such a young age. Verity recognised that she would miss many milestones and that hurt.
I’m telling you a little of our story for a reason. My books are dedicated to Verity – with love. She came into my life to show me the value of living and the need to do the things you want in life. Don’t procrastinate – just get on with your adventures, as you never know what life will deal you. After Verity’s death, my friends and I signed up to a challenge walk in the Himalayas, spurred on by her passion to achieve (“Because you can”) and a longing to raise funds for those cancer charities that helped and supported her in her journey over the years.
Over ten years have now passed, but the dream I had has now come true. I didn’t just write one book, but a collection of three! I only hope Verity is proud that I managed to achieve it eventually … even though it took me longer than we discussed. I’m sure she would forgive me.