If you're “lucky”, you'll eventually live to reach a time in your life where unfortunately the people around you will begin to pass away. In my humble opinion though, that time shouldn't be in your mid 40s. In the last few weeks 3 people I know have left my life forever. An elder family member that had been sick for a few years and had had a good life leaving many children and grandchildren died which wasn't wholly unexpected. The other 2 however were a bit different.
I work for London Sports Trust as a community coach and youth worker, but almost uniquely, I also live in the very community where the majority of my work is carried out. This means that no matter how small I try to keep my circle of friends, the amount of people who know me, especially in the place where I live, is huge.
I vividly remember popping out to the local Sainsbury’s once and realising that I knew every customer in the shop, which is nice, but I guess the downside to this situation is that when you know so many people in your community you tend to hear about a lot of their live issues and one of the biggest issues in life is dealing with death.
This week the local school I work in returned from the half term to the terrible news that one of their year 9 girls had died during the holidays. I knew her quite well, once again, because she also attended a few LST holiday camps in the last couple of years so to find out she just died spontaneously while spending time with her family abroad was quite a shock.
That shock was followed up a few days later by the news that my wife’s friend had also died, of cancer, aged just 37. She left behind a husband and 2 ½ year old little girl.
We all kind of know what cancer usually means, and we knew she'd been battling with it for a while but it had recently gone into remission and come back late last year, but she was still optimistic of beating it. She was also familiar to LST as she was an original member of a buggy walking group we started in 2016.
Now I find myself in my mid 40s facing the prospect of attending 2 funerals and a memorial all in the same week of this month (March) and it’s obviously, personally very upsetting. But if it's the unfortunate consequence of working for a great charity, that does amazing work in west London communities – including my own – I’m prepared to quietly and respectfully accept it.
Hopefully I'll be one of those lucky enough to reach an age where it's more acceptable to face the subject of mortality but until then I suppose I've got to be happy to be in the privileged position of being an active part of my community in occasionally challenging times. The bonus that I get to service them as well through my wonderful platform at London Sports Trust and the great sport and wellbeing sessions we provide, make even those challenging times a little less of a challenge.