Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Mournful Interlude

Those of you who know me will be aware that I am attempting to plough my way through the ‘1001 books you must read before you die’ list, and have been doing so for several years. For some reason however, last week I diverged from this list for the first time to read a book named Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I remember shelving this book continuously whilst working at Waterstones and wondering why on earth we managed to keep selling so many copies, years after it was published, because in my opinion, it looked terrible. But with a bit of persuasion from my boyfriend I gave it a shot.

Tuesdays with Morrie turned out to be one of those books I will never forget first reading, and I hope to enjoy it again many times in my life. The general gist is that’s it’s the true story of an inspirational college professor who touched and changed the lives of many of his students. Morrie was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, which lead to a lot of press coverage. After hearing about Morrie on the news, one of his students, Mitch Albom, gets back in contact with him sixteen years after last seeing him at graduation. What follows is the story of their weekly meetings in which Morrie teaches Mitch about the values he holds in life and the importance to remember that money and work will not be there in the end for you. These things will not sit and hold your hand when you’re taking your last breaths, they won’t fluff your pillows when you can no longer do it yourself. One thing that stuck in my head that Morrie believed is that the trick isn’t how to deal with death; it’s how to deal with living. The trick is to really hold onto the things that are important in life. He taught love and compassion above all things.

It was a strange twist of fate that I read this book last week, digressing from the list that I had so strictly stuck to for years. Nothing makes you look harder at what you value in life than this book, and an untimely death.

A few days ago, a friend of mine passed away. It was completely unexpected; Matt was 23 and, as was my understanding, in perfect health. I’m not going to pretend like he was a close friend of mine; we knew each other from a small church group we both attended for a few years back in our teens. Since then, I had spoken to Matt on occasion, mostly when I bumped into him on nights out. No matter how long it had been, I was always genuinely happy to see him and I felt like the feeling was reciprocated. He never failed to make me laugh.

When I found out the news about his sudden death, needless to say I cried. A lot. It didn’t really feel like I was upset for the change my life will undergo due to the loss of my friend. At the moment it’s all I can think about, and don’t get me wrong, I will always remember him. But in a few weeks or months he’ll probably crop into my head every now and again, after a while I’ll forget what he sounded like. What upsets me more is the utter devastation his family and close friends must be going through, and my heart truly goes out to these people at such a time of tragedy.

It made me realise how insignificant all my current worries are, mainly about my lack of money for my upcoming trip to Canada. I locked myself out my flat last weekend, and this resulted in having to pay £40 for a locksmith to come and stick a piece of card in my door to let me in again. I was so angry at the time for just throwing a load of money away when I need it so badly. But in light of recent events, all I can think is ‘who gives a shit? Does it honestly matter?’

From what I could tell in the short spells I had with Matt, he enjoyed life. He had his bad times, but he overcame these in a truly admirable way. If there is anything I’ve learnt from this and that life-changing book, it’s that you literally cannot waste a moment in this world.

Matt, this one’s for you. To say you will be missed is an understatement. 

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