Monday, March 24, 2003

I've just received some bad news. My first boyfriend in the UK died last night. He'd been very ill for a very long time. All the combinations had stopped working, and he'd run out of options.

I pretty much lost touch with him a few years ago, as he sold up the London house we'd lived in and moved to a little pink cottage in the countryside. It was always his dream to live a life straight out of Mapp and Lucia, and he achieved it. He was a funny old stick. I call him "old" because that's how he often seemed, but he was younger than me - 30 going on 65. He was never happier than when pottering around his garden, tying up the raspberry canes, cooking up this year's batch of jams.

We'd speak on the phone occasionally, and email till his eyesight deteriorated too much. I'd always get pangs of guilt that I didn't venture out into the country to go visit. Now, of course, it's too late. Whenever somebody dies, one always feels this sense of regret at not having done enough, of having failed somehow.

He had really suffered in the last four or five years. He once joked that he'd named his three remaining T-cells "Mary, Mungo and Midge". He died last night in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, a sudden decline after what, by all accounts, was a lovely weekend. His end was swift, peaceful and painless, an end to the suffering.

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