I know that if I said all of this to you on FaceTime, you’d blush furiously, squirm awkwardly and mutter, “Yeah, thanks.” and walk away. I’d also stutter, mumble and cry, which would probably make the situation even more awkward.
So I thought I’d write it down instead. I hope this will also bring some comfort to your mum, Carl, brothers and sisters.. and to anyone else feeling like they’re down on their luck right now.
Cancer. The ******* *******. Especially at your age too.
I was shell-shocked when I found out, I think it’s fair to say that everyone else was. I think in the last couple of weeks, everyone’s been skirting around the issue, trying to make light of it. But the fact is, it’s there. You can’t hide from it.
Last night, I asked you if you were okay.
“Hello I’m okay, thanks. Just trying to get it over with.”
That was your reply. Simple and to the point. Just like you.
If I had to deal with that kind of **** when I was your age, I would’ve been a complete mess.
Today, you go in for your operation.
My boss asked if I was ok, and I broke down crying in his office. I felt stupid, because it wasn’t ME who was going through it, but you.
I’ve been trying to keep myself distracted today so I wouldn’t dwell on you so much. Funnily enough, today was probably the most work I’ve done this year. I should get upset more often.
On the way home, I was absolutely shattered, constantly thinking about you and your mum.
Standing on the platform, I thought..
‘What is the point of life, if it brings you misery and doom..?’
That surprised me, I have to admit. I’m normally this chirpy, will-not-shut-the-****-up, positive person, who likes to see the sunlight in everything, despite the gloomy forecast.
I shook myself out of it, and thought..
‘What can I do to make you smile, to make you happy, and motivated?’
This is very important. When mum and nan had cancer, I tried everything I could to make them laugh, because I do genuinely believe that being positive, smiling and laughing, will help your recovery. It worked. I’m pretty sure nan had rock-hard abs by the time I was done..
So, how can I do it with you, when I’m halfway across the world?
I don’t know what makes you happy, cuz you’re a teenage boy – you always mutter and run away from me every time I come to visit. But you’re still my baby cousin, and I love you to bits.
So, think of what makes you happy.
Ok.. I’ll help you out. You’d probably think..
Maybe something like this..?
The first day of summer.
Meeting new friends.
Seeing old friends.
Holding hands with the girl you like.
Digging your toes in the sand.
Listening to the wind.
Singing to your favourite song on your iPod.
Smiling at James.
Making new traditions.
Tea before bed.
Eating Tessa’s food.
Travelling to new and faraway places.
Finding money in your pocket.
Pregnancies and new life.
Compliments from strangers.
Hearing a good song for the first time.
Taking photos with friends.
Getting sloppy kisses from Holly.
Re-reading your favourite book.
Watching your favourite film.
Getting through another year.
Freshly made pancakes.
Hugging your mum.
Late night adventures.
Winding Ally up.
Getting a new haircut.
Listening to Carl DJing.
Putting on new socks.
The smell of clean laundry.
Laughing at nan.
Clean bed sheets.
Fighting with Kai.
Getting drunk with aunty Pat (if you haven’t done that yet, I highly recommend it – absolutely hilarious).
Finding something you thought you’d lost.
Eating your favourite dessert.
Playing with Harvey.
Listening to the monkey.
Lighting and thunder.
Seeing that there can be good in the world.
Being part of the good in the world.
Realising you’re never truly alone (thanks to your mum, you’re stuck with far too many brothers and sisters..).
Being so happy you’re crying.
All of the people you have yet to meet.
Defending what you believe in.
Crossing things off lists.
Trying something new.
Doing something you love.
Overcoming your fears.
Touching the lives of everyone you know.
Creating new dreams to conquer.
Being true to who you are.
Those are just the small things in life that we normally take for granted, but when you look at the bigger picture, you begin to realise that.. really, it’s the small things that matters.
This is for you, and everyone out there.
You’re going to face obstacles in life. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy. It’s going to be hard. You’ll have days when you feel like giving up. You’ll have days when you feel like crying. But armed with a family who love you to bits, friends who’d do anything for you and a positive mental attitude, you can get through everything.
Make your own list. Think of what makes you happy.
Love you kiddo,