And yet it's been a lovely week. Not really because of the views, though the view up to the Pen y Fan ridge from our barn conversion was great, sometimes shrouded in cloud, sometimes made bright by the sun, sometimes with sharp shadows of the morning or evening. Not really because of the change, though it was nice to see Jane not having to think about meals, since the younger generation took turns in preparing a main meal as they did in keeping an eye on me. What I most enjoyed was being in that environment of mutual respect and affection, which included me. That's what made it a love-ly week.
On Wednesday afternoon there was a gentleness when two of them broke the news to me, "Dad, Tony Nicklinson has died." I was lowered into my seat, as they told me more: "Of natural causes. Pneumonia. He hadn't been eating." I was sad, in one way, to hear it. He was a man whom I'd met and talked with of important matters, and with whom I shared a similar predicament, a fellow-dribbler and with a remarkable wife called Jane. I had admired his stubbornness. But I also reflected that God had granted him his two great wishes: first, to have his day in court; and second, to have his suffering cut short by death. Tony, of course, would not have looked at it like that. The idea of "God" was one of the things that made him angry. He would probably have preferred me to say that he achieved his day in court and that he precipitated his own end. I'm not greatly fussed by the language you use, but I am truly grateful that his suffering and deep unhappiness is over, that the fever of his life is over and his work is done.
|Meeting the late Tony Nicklinson|
The tragic thing in my view is that Tony's fighting spirit was so directed to a negative and self-destructive end, his own death. We're about to see paralympic athletes who by sheer determination have overcome "impossible" handicaps to achieve heights beyond most of the fittest of us. In no way am I suggesting that Tony could have escaped his locked-in prison to achieve such physical feats, but he proved that he could win what The Times termed "victory" in other ways than physical - as indeed others with locked-in syndrome are doing like Gary Parkinson (Radio 5 Live report) or Bram Harrison (Independent report: Britain's bravest DJ). Their aims and interests are positive, and are not just about themselves getting better. I've no doubt they get fed up and weary with life, from time to time. It goes against the grain, as I know, to be constantly depending on others to survive.
And yet, here's the magic, which is so priceless to receive, to be loved by those around us actually makes life worth living. I love the BBC's Mark Clemmit's account of Deborah Parkinson, wife of footballer, Gary: "His wife is the most extraordinary woman I have ever, ever met. There was never a down moment. She keeps going and her dedication to her man is beyond belief. It says 'better and for worse' when you sign up and that's her attitude.
In the end, it doesn't matter what we can achieve; it matters what we can receive. That's what makes life worth preserving. It is what makes life worth living. That's why I've had a good holiday. That's why, as my abilities decline still further, I hope I'll still be grateful for every day of life. I'm immensely sad that that wasn't enough for Tony, for without doubt he was cherished and loved amazingly by Jane, and Lauren and Beth, beyond what's "reasonable" to expect. Tragically for him the darkness blotted out the light. Ultimately humanity makes a choice and takes its chance. However I dare to pray that darkness has not had the last word. RIP.