I’ve never been more proud to be a Midlander, than I have this week. The eyes of the world have been looking at us over the past few weeks and months as Burntwood teenager Stephen Sutton battled with terminal cancer.
I didn’t know Stephen, but I knew about his campaign long before the cameras appeared, his determined nature and refusal to let his circumstances dictate what he able to do was something I could relate to, he just got on and turned the most negative situation possible into a catalyst for positive impact.
I hate the term inspiration, and it’s all to often used to describe me, something which is quite simply, ridiculous and wholly misplaced, when you compare me to Stephen Sutton. I will never be as eloquent or as stirring as him, he was about to die and yet remarkably calm and at peace with that fact.
Sometimes it’s a struggle for me to keep smiling, the smile and seemingly positive impact I try and spread can slip, and actually if you knew what I was really like, you take every nice thing you thought about me and think again. My positive attitude doesn’t exist for greater good, I don’t raise awareness, and I don’t think my words have enough sway to raise millions for charity. My attitude exists for purely selfish reasons. I don’t want to change the world.
Stephen made me feel like I don’t do enough, made me realise I complain too much and made me want to be a better person, and an ambassador for disability. Infact, I feel quite selfish, and guilty that I’ve occasionally sulked about the circumstance I’m in, yes, life isn’t perfect, but I’m not dead, maybe I should be creating a legacy, because people aren’t going to remember me for long after I’m gone. I’m nothing special.
Stephen, lost the fight this week, it’s fair to say he is a local hero. I never got emotional about his story when he was alive, but its only now I realise just how remarkable he was.
His death brings very painful memories back for me, I’ve lost a number of class mates, all around Stephen’s age through health. Unfortunately, disability didn’t get along with them in thier cases and picked a fight with every fibre of thier being every single day.
Loosing a friend is never easy, and like any grief it never gets easier. One Christmas I lost two close friends in the space of three days, my grief was unbearable, There was always a chance my friends could die earlier than me, we knew in some cases it was a for gone conclusion, but everytime I’m told about another friend, It kills me. A bit of my spirit goes with them.
It’s shitty when a funeral service actually doubles up as a school reunion. And the the reason for there death is even more upsetting. They weren’t teen tearaways, we didn’t go out doing lines of cocaine, and gallons of booze, we were just a happy bunch of friends.
Seeing the pain and anguish that Stephen’s friends were in, made me miss my friends who died, I felt that same sickening knot, that forms when you discover someone has gone and felt the hopelessly numb feeling that hits you. My heart goes out to them.
Stephen will never leave them, not really, I only hope that I have made my friends proud. I’ve lived my life partly for them since they died, mindful that I’ve still got the life they wish they had.
Rest in peace guys. You’re always with me, even when you think I’ve forgotten…