Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trinity Hospice: River Walk 2011

Last weekend, John, Tom, Cristy, Alison and I participated in Trinity Hospice's River Walk fundraising event and raised over £800 for the hospice, in memory of John's uncle, Chris.

When I first moved to London, Chris was the one who introduced me to the plush carpets of Fortnum & Mason and the delights of its chocolate counter.  And before Kate Middleton made The Goring a household name (even in the US), Chris took me there for lunch and insisted that we dress up and take pre-meal drinks in the separate bar.  I'll never forget that.

We developed an unexpected, but cherished, friendship over the three years I knew him - through email, Skype, and long conversations in his Pimlico flat ("Westminster, please," he'd correct me).  At the time, I worked at an office not far from Pimlico and would accompany him on fun (House of Fraser) or grocery (Sainsbury's) shopping trips after work.   Over a cup of tea, we extolled the virtues of Finzi and Vaughan Williams, but mostly ... we gossiped.  About everything.  Reality television, fashion, the news, people in the news, people we knew, people we didn't know - everything was up for discussion.  So even now, after he's gone, I still instinctively get the "I can't wait to tell Chris" feeling before reminding myself he's not there to tell anymore.

Chris spent the last few months of his life in and out of Trinity.  I'll be honest: before I stepped foot into Trinity, the mere mention of the word "hospice" was like an icy claw around my heart.  I imagined a dark, suffocating place, with - for some strange reason - no daylight, no happiness, only sadness and grieving.  The first time I visited Chris there however, I was bowled over by how wrong I was: this hospice was bright, shiny, pleasant, warm and, above all, comfortable.  It had a lovely garden where guests could take strolls and the individual rooms had floor to ceiling windows overlooking this beautiful scene.  The furnishings were more akin to those of a boutique hotel, rather than a hospice - or what one would expect of a hospice.  The nurses were friendly, helpful and kind and Chris would often tell me how incredible they were.  All I remember thinking was how glad I was that he was being cared for in such an environment.

Chris is still listed as a "follower" of this blog.  Occasionally, I'll search back to entries that have his comments just to read them again: they don't make me sad.  They make me laugh.  I used to complain, "Why haven't you commented yet?" when he was silent about what I'd written.  "I can't think of anything witty enough to say!" he'd moan and I'd laugh because he prided himself on his sharp observations and witticisms.  I miss his opinions, his insight and his personality.

But my best friend passed on a wonderful saying that always helps: "When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure."

Team Chris Morris's fundraising page on JustGiving is open and accepting donations until June 2012. Please consider making a small donation to Trinity Hospice here: http://www.justgiving.com/jaimejohn

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