Students driving home vital hospice work
When a friend rings and asks if you have a minute to talk, you know it is serious. Your head goes into overdrive and, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, you find yourself mentally rummaging through the basket of deplorable possibilities that make life difficult.
I got such a call last week. A very dear friend phoned one afternoon. It was unusual to hear from her at that time of the day as she works a job that affords little time for personal calls.
When she asked if I had a minute, I knew instinctively I had to find a space away from my desk, but even before I had myself relocated, she told me what was up - she had breast cancer. It was one of the things that certainly featured in my quick mental rummage through the aforementioned basket of deplorables.
I listened as she matter-of-factly took me through the story from the first noticing, to the visit to the GP and on to Breast-Check where her fears were realised. She calmly outlined the next few steps she has to take in a series of prognoses, diagnoses and procedures that would daunt the most lion-hearted.
She spoke about how her husband reacted and how she had yet to tell her teenage children. While the prognosis is still uncertain, what is certain is that she is in for a difficult few months.
After the phone call, I sat back in the chair and looked out at the lovely spring afternoon, at the greens and yellows that had suddenly burst forth after all the grey days and the rain.
While I wanted to scream at the incongruity of it, there was also hope and strength in the sight of a stubborn daffodil waving defiantly at a dappled sky.
In a strange coincidence, the call came as I sat down to write a piece about a visit I had just made to St Brigid's School in Loughrea, Co Galway, where two Transition Year (TY) students are organising a tractor run in aid of the Galway Hospice. Cormac Porter and Alex Burns are both familiar with the hospice - Cormac lost his granddad to cancer in 2016 and Alex, his mother a number of years ago. She passed away when he was just four years old, leaving a husband and five children aged between nine and two years.