We often get letters delivered to our house incorrectly. There’s one house in our village that has almost the same address (one word different) and we’ve had crossed post several times. Often we get letters for next door. Sometimes the postman just gets it randomly wrong.
I saw the address was wrong – it was for a house around the corner. I was just about to put it to one side to deliver later, having already recognised it as a hospital letter (I’ve had enough of them to know), when I noticed that you could read some of the letter through the transparent envelope window.
This is what it said:
... 2009 breast biopsy ... 2009 radiotherapy, started on tam ... ... bone scan osteoporosis 10/1/2018 CT scan metastatic ... cancer
Pretty sobering, right?
I know I shouldn’t have been reading this (although it was displayed for all to see). I felt shocked, seeing it written there. A lady around the corner was going through hell right now. I felt awful for reading it. Like I’d invaded her privacy (which I had), but most of all I felt such a sense of sadness and grief for her. How awful and unfair that she had to be in this position. Presumably she knew, presumably this was to confirm the ongoing care plan and how they were going to deal with it. But I know that cancer that has metastasised is not something many people come back from. It kills, rapidly.
When I dropped the letter off after the school run, I recognised the house. I’ve spoken to the lady there once. She lives in the road behind our house and next door to a man who has a really irritating, noisy dog. We spoke about how annoying it was listening to it bark all day long. I know her husband – he often visits an elderly couple across the road from us.
It really puts things in perspective doesn’t it?
Here I am, sleep deprived after around eight severely broken nights with a poorly toddler. My skin has developed the worst acne I’ve seen in ages for reasons I am unable to fathom. I have terrible period-related backache. My arthritic joints are constantly hurting from the lack of sleep. My dentist confirmed today that I have gum disease at the back of my lower jaw. I feel tired, and old, and pretty sorry for myself.
And then I wonder how the lady with the letter feels. Is she wondering how long she has left? Is she thinking about how she has lived her life, the choices she’s made and the paths she’s chosen? Is she afraid for what she has yet to face?
Our health is really our most precious gift. Because without a healthy body to take us forward and allow us to live each day, what else do we have?
I wish I could magically make her better.