A boy from my school died yesterday morning. He’d been ill for two years, cancer, and lived 20m from my house. But I didn’t know him. I never spoke to him; I never said hi, I barely even looked at him. I saw him on my way to school. His mum used to push him over to school in his wheelchair and I ignored him. The chance for me to be his friend slipped away. It seems callous now and I feel guilty. The simple fact is I never particularly cared. He wasn’t my friend and I was too busy with my own life to care. I’d spare a thought every now and then, wondering whether he was alright, how he was coping. But I never made an effort. I should have. I never even knew his name until the day he died. We were called into a special assembly and told. Even knowing that he was ill at 15 years old I never completely accepted that there was a chance that he could die. Don’t get me wrong, I know that cancer can carry a death sentence – but when it’s a boy your own age it’s hard to accept that it has happened. It seems surreal. He shouldn’t have died, he was too young. But he did. And the way I acted can’t be changed. It brings a whole new meaning to the fact that life is short. My school has been rocked by two cancer deaths recently and each leaves its mark on you. Hopefully next time I know somebody in the same situation I’ll do better – after all it’s said that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
September 21, 2010