I’ve seen true nobility just a handful of times in my life. And each time, I’ve never wanted to see it again.
Nope, I haven’t stumbled across Prince Harry in a Chelsea kebab shop after a heavy night. True nobility has nothing to do with who your gran is, or how many anorexic lions jig about on your funny coloured shield.
True nobility is something you can only bear in flashes, like the sun in your eyes. I’ve only seen it when someone I love has had to stand up, walk past the coffin to face us all, and talk about the person we have lost.
It hurts, this impossible dignity. I don’t know if I could do it. To find the way to tell the story of one life, the evil puzzle of its end. To feel the animal howl of loss, and still say aloud the words that no-one ever wants to say. To stand up straight.
I’ve never felt pride like it, for that person speaking, for the person they are talking about. Pride so fierce I thought it would burst open the top of my skull. But I would happily never feel it again.
Too often in my life, we’ve had to say goodbye to someone who should have had more time. Who had to put up with the maddening ordeals that terminal disease brings. Whose time was stolen away because we still don’t know enough about cancer.
I ran a 10k Cancer Research Race for Life on Saturday. So far I’ve wussed out of the usual bragging spam about it on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve got that popularity contest paranoia that I’m not running 50 marathons in the mud in just my bra at night, so who cares?
But that’s not fair on everyone I ran for. It’s not fair on the people I’ve felt this unbearable pride for. Because only by understanding cancer can we make it into a disease of the past. We have to pay forward the love we’re left with, when someone leaves us, to make sure a future life isn’t lost in the same way.
So please, chuck a bit of cash to Cancer Research: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ruthgrearson
It’ll help bring us closer to a future without the unfairness of cancer.
When it comes to saying goodbye to those we love, there will always be that blazing pride. But the fierceness of that pride should be because the weight of their life in the world: full of people known, adventures had, laughter remembered.
Not because they left too soon.