“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”

Dickens says it all here: In many ways, this is very definitely the best of times. I have had extraordinary conversations with friends and family. I have had the opportunity to tell people how much I love them and have had the honour of being told, or shown by actions and generosity, how much I am loved. I have spent hours with Matron A, telling her things about my life that she may never have heard had we not made the time to just be together. I spend my days doing things that have meaning or bring me pleasure. But in many ways this really is the worst of times. The word incredulity resonates with me. I just can’t believe that my life is to be cut short at the very time I am happiest at work and at home – when there is so much left to do. I can’t believe that I won’t be around to see Sebastian continue to develop into the loveliest and funniest young man I know. I can’t believe I’ll never know what Anna decides to do with her life; if she’ll ever have a child. My darkest moments are brief but intense. I am enraged by the knowledge that all the amputations and months of wound care and rehabilitation have essentially been for nothing. Mostly, I rail against the knowledge that Nurse J and I won’t spend our retirement as we’d imagined, pootling about the country with Alfie or his successor, sitting in cafes or bars, just chattering and watching the world go by.