One year go I celebrated with friends the publication of Love for Now, my journal-memoir of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells.
We lit a fire, drank wine and ate a hearty meal.
It felt appropriate, for they were the ones who had showed up by offering lifts, making meals, leaving brownies on the doorstep. They had brought cakes, sat in silence, babysat our children.
I thanked them by saying I could never thank them properly, or enough.
We toasted the book and each other. There was a lot of laughter. More corks popped.
Now the book is one year old I would like to share a brief extract from it.
The following passage is from March 14, 2006, one month to the day after my diagnosis.
With enduring thanks to my friends and family.
‘When did I get this?
Was it there on Christmas Day as I carved the turkey wearing my lovely stripy shirt given to me for my anniversary? Yes. Was it there when I played football two days after Christmas and got bollocked by Pug’s friend Adrian because I was slow, useless, had no first touch and let in three quick goals? Yes. Was it there when I cooked chicken with lemon and olives for my students? Yes. Was it there when I struggled into work a week later feeling fluey and everyone said kindly how terrible I looked? Yes. It was there when I burned CDs from the library and it was there when I lit fireworks in the garden for the kids. It was there when I went to the dump with Shim and it was there when Bendy and I shopped in the January sales. It was there at Boston Tea Party, over latté, and it was there at the family curry. It was there when I cycled to work and it was there when I strolled round the quay. It was there when I emailed colleagues and it was there when I sent apologies to meetings. It was there when I lectured students and there when we met 1:1. It was there in my initials in their files. It was there when I went for bread, when I made love, bought olives, scanned the sports pages, picked up a poetry book, posted a postcard, had my haircut, made porridge, called the builder.
It was there, uninvited and growing, in the dark. I did not ask for it. I did not deserve it. It is not fair. But it found me, and I accepted it.’
You can buy Love for Now here
You can listen to the BBC’s James Landale talking about Love for Now here
Artwork by Claire Harper