Tag Archives: Information

Face Paining

It was a day for singing and sadness, a day for open hearts and censored thoughts, a day to celebrate the life he has not mourn the living he left out. It was not a day for honesty.

The rain sluiced down the windscreen onto the black bonnet, drumming a tattoo on the roof of the Cadillac and muffling the sounds of Sophie’s quiet sobs from the back. Dave shifted awkwardly in his seat as he tried to gather her more fully into his arms but her limp figure just seemed to slide from his grasp at every turn, leaking back onto the black leather seats as if to immerse herself more fully in the noir of her misery.

“Come on, love” he cajoled. “We’re here to celebrate Alan’s life and he wouldn’t have wanted to see you in this state now would he?” The second the words left his mouth, Dave wished he could suck them back in and erase them from existence, but it was too late.

“What?” Sophie’s head whipped around with a muscular power belying her previous slackness. “You hadn’t spoken to Alan in weeks before he died!  How can you dare to presume to know what he would and wouldn’t have wanted?!”  The previously muffled sobs now started to escalate into tearing cries akin to the wrenching apart of rusted metal as Sophie worked herself further and further into her state of hysteria

“How could you?  You know all he wanted was to be friends and if only you’d have talked to him perhaps none of this would have happened! I’m not sure you should even be here today.  If the tables were turned I’d be too horrified to show my face at his funeral. You… you…” This thought was clearly too much for even Sophie’s melodramas to finish and instead she dissolved into loud, hiccupping wails that startled the group of mourners making their way past the end of the car under their umbrellas.

Dave sighed and once again shifted in his seat waiting for Sophie’s display to finish.  His head was starting to ache and in all honesty he was beginning to wonder why he had agreed to attend the funeral. Wiping his hand over his face he heard the rasping stubble of the last three days and felt the sleepless night’s grit in his eyes and thought over the possibility of escaping the confines of the vehicle and Sophie’s amateur dramatics into the cool embrace of the October rainfall.  For just a moment he entertained the thought of leaving all this behind him and making a break for it through the peaceful graveyard to his left.

Suddenly Sophie’s flaccidity seemed to return in full force and she flung herself artistically onto his lap and howled into chest with a ferocity that made the driver, studiously ignoring his passengers until this point, jump in his seat and turn to the back seat with a look half shock, half ill-concealed disgust plastered on his face.

It was too much.  This was really all too much for Dave to take. He took one look at the driver’s exasperated expression and couldn’t help the noise that came out.  Sophie slowly lifted her head and turned to look at him in disbelief, but the view of her makeup strewn, puffy-eyed, slack mouthed, wobbly-lipped indignation was the last straw.  He could feel it creeping up his chest and overpowering his conscience sense and there was nothing he could do to stop its onset.

Dave leant his head back in the seat and roared with laughter.  The kind of laugh that leaves you feeling weak and trembling after it’s arrived.  His body shook with the sudden mirth that overtook him and tears started to course down his cheeks unchecked as he pushed Sophie away and reached for the door handle.  This seemed to shake her from her incredulity and spur her to action

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing you selfish bastard?  Today is about Alan and you think this is acceptable?  You clearly have issues you need to sort out but right now, I’m telling you to get your shit together and think of Alan!  Shut that door, get back in the car, get yourself together and walk me up to that fucking graveside or…”

“Or what Sophie? You’ll do what exactly..?” Dave left the question hanging in the echo of his final chuckle and stared into the face he once thought he loved. “You’ll do what?”

They stayed locked in the stare for a long time before colour gradually started to flood Sophie’s face, barely visible beneath the cake of makeup on her skin but the flicker of her eyes down towards her now twisting uncertain hands was all the confirmation he needed.

“No, I didn’t think so,” Dave said quietly. He turned in his seat and pulled the door open.  The grey sky and greasy rain greeted him as he stepped from the vehicle and straightened up, stretching as he went.  He stood for a moment; face turned to the clouds and listened to the muffled sounds of the world beyond the black Cadillac and all it held. Without a backwards glance, he walked away, through the peace of the gravestones.

 

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C-R-Ying out loud. To anyone who’ll listen

Every day there are tragedies.  In the news just this week there have been earthquakes, bombs, wars, death and destruction across the globe but it is often not until it is on our very doorstep that we truly sit up and take notice of what is happening around us.  And sometimes something happens that unites the world in its indignation and grief for the occasion, bringing something amazing back from the jaws of travesty.

This weekend that ‘something’ was Fabrice Muamba.

You must have read or heard somewhere about the horrendous end to the Tottenham Hotspur – Bolton Wanders match on Saturday 17th March.  Just after 41 minutes of the game, the Bolton and former Arsenal player collapsed on the pitch without apparent cause.  It took six medics immediate CPR for over six minutes and the defibrillators to keep Muamba alive until he could be treated in hospital for the attack that has stopped his apparently fit and healthy athlete’s heart.  The latest on this is that he is fortunately now awake and making progress towards recovery but it has unleashed a media storm of epic proportion across the populace, and I’m not talking about the professionals.

Thanks to the open source nature of the internet, the population at large was kept up to date with Muamba’s condition and treatment almost as events were occurring, and the messages flooding Facebook and Twitter were well-informed, collective and most importantly, united in their well wishes toward to the 23-year-old.

With the advances in technology, the shortening of the alleged six degrees and the hunger for connection society feels the need for today, not only do we possess the ability but also the opportunity and the drive to interact as we would not have been able to even 10 years ago.  This ability is so beautifully demonstrated and shown to the very best of its ability when a shock such as the Muamba incident occurs.  A calamity occurring amid the celebrations of St. Patrick’s day, a super Saturday of International rugby and a Welsh Grand Slam, and yet within hours the world is not only aware but also aligned in its thinking.  This power; this ability is something leaders of the past could only have dreamed of inspiring in months of campaigning and yet a tweet or three manages it within the space of an afternoon.  And a busy one at that!

I have often been irritated beyond belief at some of the trends that can be seen flitting across the world-wide web and the sheer banality of the perpetrators behind it. More than once, I’ve cursed the ideas that let the very people who have no sphere of existence beyond that of their avatarian selves, bleat their meaningless drivel about said non-existent life across the ether for all to see.  And I am not averse to offering insult to the miss-spelt, grammatically incorrect, linguistic murderers who seem to find little wrong with their desecration of the English language on a daily basis.  However on occasions such as this, I willingly swallow every opinionated, subjective pedantry I have ever uttered and admit I was wrong.

This is the purpose of open source. The very reason for the campaigns, the arguments, the not-for-profit sites.  Information sharing should not be based on pride or privilege but instead on right.  The right to have the information and the right to make the decision what to do with it.  And that is the greatest power we have; freedom of choice.  Because when you see society respond as it did to the case of Muamba you realise just how much power we have, literally [in the correct use of the word] at our fingertips

It was thanks to the fast and timely actions of the medical personnel available on the pitch side on Saturday that Muamba undoubtedly owes his life for had they not acted as they did, his battle would surely have been lost long before the hospital had even been reached.  Their grasp of the situation and immediate response should be something to be applauded during this shocking time.  What should also be noted is that about 500 people in the UK alone die each year from SADS.  And these people don’t attract Twitter trends.

I have been unfortunate in my life, in that I have known three people die of what has been termed Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, Adult Cot Death, Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome and a host of other names but they all amount to the same end.  A seemingly healthy person, functioning as any ordinary person of their age would, suddenly and at the time, inexplicably stops as though someone has flicked the switch off.  I have seen the destruction and confusion this can leave behind as well as the furiously impotent anguish and experienced the desperate inanity and vile feelings of unjust cruelty myself.  I cannot begin to describe the torrent of powerlessness this loathsome illness can inspire nor would I want to wax lyrical about its base effect.  But from the ashes of destruction can grow something hopeful.

It was a year ago last weekend that the most recent of these, Ben (15), died.  Almost to the day of Muamba’s collapse.  I am not going to tell you all about the joy he was to watch growing up and I’m not going to cry about how hugely unfair his loss is to the world.  Nor am I going to go on about the guilty grief I felt for having only known him clumsily for a short amount of time or the sorrow I felt as I faced the fact I would never get to meet the man I knew he was capable of becoming.  Instead I would ask that you take a moment to find out about the charity working on the solutions rather than just reading about the people affected.  Take the time to read the information and pass it along, gain something from another heartbreak that may not have a celebrity tag but certainly deserves your attention, if only fleetingly.

Bring something back from the brink of destruction, a little knowledge to be used to whatever ends you deem necessary.  Don’t cower in ignorance behind platitudes of denial or fatalism.  Whether public figure or common prol, this disease is a leveler of all men and knowledge is a weapon that can defend us all.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not naive enough to assume that with understanding and information, death itself can be duped, but I am optimistic enough to believe that with every new person who is given the information needed and the choice of how to act and support, the stifling, fearful hold cardiac disease in the young has is diminished just that fraction more.

There’s always something positive to come from the ashes; sometimes you just need the strength to look for it.

Even if you just make a start today, a little information can change the world.  Ben Daniel’s Memorial Fund.  Make it count.