The Soap Box: The clarity death can bring

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 11 October 2018, 6:47a.m.
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

The visit to New York with the Prime Minister was all going pretty much to plan, the international media in the city were transfixed by this young woman with a baby in tow.

Media in the big apple from this country had been there, done that, they were more interested in who she was talking to and what she said when she spoke to Donald Trump while her partner Clarke Gayford was busy knocking over a nearby flagpole

An old friend of mine had been trying to catch up all week but our schedule made it impossible and a luncheon was finally agreed to on Friday when things were winding down with a series of one on one interviews with Jacinda Ardern and her reflection of the week.

That lunch never happened.

Two days before it a text message came through from one of my friend’s twin daughters. Her dad was desperately ill, he’d had a brain seizure and was in a coma in a hospital on 68th Street. Seeing him didn’t relieve my anguish.

Walking down the street to the hospital ICU daily from the Lexington Avenue subway, I passed a playground of excited children, they were about the same age, around five years old, as my friend and I were when we met in Gore and became mates.

Less than a week later he was dead.

Walking from the hospital after he died passing the same playground, they were doing the same thing, playing without a care in the world.

It bought home to me a myriad of feelings, some of them irrational, like how could the fruit stall holder who’d sold me a banana earlier in the day and smiled as I walked past, not know how things had impacted on my life that day.

Life was continuing as usual for all those around me as though nothing had changed while indelibly etched on my mind, having just seen my friend die, I had the image of him struggling to stay in the life he so enjoyed so much.

His grown-up family who came from far and near were also at his bedside, stunned by what had unfolded over the past week.

His partner said on the first day that life can change on the turn of a dime, and that got me thinking about mortality. If he’d been in the situation we were, standing at the bedside of one of us, hoping for the best but in reality expecting the worst, what would he think?

After a lifetime of friendship, I think I would know his answer. Live life for today because you never know what’s around the corner, live every day as though it could be your last. Be kind to each other, for that’s what he was good at.

And speaking to the American congregation in midtown Manhattan at his funeral last Friday I told them of what Maori would say at a time like this, Kia Kaha, for that’s what he would have wanted.

 

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