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There’s a macabre title.

True though. Obvious really. But so often it still arrives as though it shouldn’t, that somehow the final moment should be indefinitely postponed.

And, of course, death should never happen to oneself. Not even to one’s friends really. If it does, it’s offensive and - too often in the press - a ‘tragedy’.

All this sparked by an email received mid-Monday afternoon.

He wasn’t someone I’d known really well. And he himself hadn’t been ‘really well’ for a while either. Sure, he’d had minor problems and hadn’t been walking with much of a spring. But – dying? Surely not?

I hadn’t seen him for a while. The ‘must do coffee’ invitations had become even vaguer but still sincere and looked for. I liked him, for goodness sake. He was part of my landscape – middle ground, a little unfocussed but definitely there.

And then he’s dead. ‘Natural causes’, seemingly.

How do I feel? Sad – yes. Regretful – that I hadn’t prioritised those vague agreements to meet up – yes. More circumspect……… yes, that too.

Why ‘circumspect’?

Well, it makes you look about a bit doesn’t it? Makes you think: what about my own mortality? How am I feeling?

Not so bad – though I find my blood-pressure is up on a year or two ago. Feeling reasonably ready for the next stage…… planning for the future.

‘Are you?’ says Jesus. ‘Making plans? Big ones?’

And he tells a story about someone who’s made a packet – in the lead industry of the day – and is planning on a lavishly resourced retirement. I wish.

But then Jesus adds the chiller: ‘You fool! You’re going to die tonight and your soul will be required to give an account of your life.’

If I were to die tonight, is my life in order? All debts paid – not just financial but in my relationships with people? Anyone to forgive? Anyone I should say ‘I love you’ to? Will my sudden death give anyone unnecessary problems – clerical, financial, emotional?

Has God ever come knocking on my door – and I’ve said, ‘Not today, thank you’.....?

I wish my friend hadn’t died.

By Nigel O’Dwyer, who still lives, and works, in Worthing