Reason to be Cheerful


Dedicated to Annabelle


He awoke early that June morning, around six fifteen, it was in fact his birthday and outside there was a clear blue sky – it was going to be a beautiful day.

Wearing his old baggy T shirt and long shorts, he padded down the stairs to the kitchen and made his customary coffee, walked through the conservatory and opened the doors onto his patio where he was immediately greeted by a  post dawn chorus from the Blackbirds and Thrushes as they contested first place on the ‘songbird airwaves’.

He sat down in his favorite eastwards facing garden chair, closed his eyes and allowed himself to be completely absorbed, the warmth of the early morning sun  and fresh clean air bound everything together.

When he opened his eyes they were filled with a wonderful panorama of hills, dales, farms and sheep. ‘It’s about as perfect as it could be’ he thought. However, after sitting for a few more minutes he sensed rather than saw the clouds following the rising sun over the eastern horizon.

Suddenly it seemed as though the light was fading, and a chill made him shudder as the symphony of birdsong gradually diminished, trailing off  to an occasional tweet and staccato chirp.

Almost instantaneously his own mood changed and he found himself transported back five years, to a time when an even blacker cloud had affected his mood, black clouds with far more serious consequences.

Then he had been having his morning shave, when he noticed a swelling or lump on the left side of his neck which had not been there the day before. After a couple of weeks he was concerned enough to see his G.P. who said ” It’s probably just a cyst, but to be on the safe side let’s get you over to the hospital for a biopsy”. The results from that one action were to change his life forever.

All his life he had been an active athlete, running and climbing mountains, walking and trekking over the high passes of the world, and now at the back end of his sixties he was still in great physical condition.

But this black cloud had no mercy and quickly pulled him deeper and further into its terrifying centre. “Malignant cancer in the throat, with a tumor on the left tonsil” advised the oncologist, and aggressive treatment would be required immediately.

The cloud became his very dark place, so dark at times that he wasn’t sure he could cope, he had visions of him never running again in the dales and hills he loved so much.

The people who loved and cared for him were in the same dark place, but they were always there to help him fight, their love and encouragement never ceasing and never wavering.

The dark place did not give ground easily, and for some time held him fast in its awful grip. Gradually, and sometimes it seemed barely perceptible to him, there came a slender sliver of golden light, challenging the darkness, and winning!

As the sun kissed his face once more, the birds began to sing, and the dark cloud passed over.

In  the house he put on his running shorts and vest, and as he laced up his fell shoes in the porch, he looked around him and he knew why he had a ‘reason to be cheerful’.

%d bloggers like this: