There it was, directly in my path as I walked in the warmth of this summer morning along the streets of Twickenham, making my way to French conversation class: a young fox, recently dead, its bushy tail trailing across the pavement and just into the roadway. It was impossible to ignore and also beyond the reach of my will not to stop and contemplate this sad little sight. There was no mark or injury that I could see, no trail of blood or twisted, broken limb to give a clue as to how it had come to be lying there, immobile, its life just gone.
There was even a shine in the eye, but no spark of life, and not for the first time I was faced with the closed door of death and driven to spend some moments of thought on the subject of my eventual end. A few years ago, in September 2010, I received the shocking news of my own serious illness and found myself very soon falling into a black despair as I saw my cherished hopes, dreams and plans not merely receding but rather being snuffed out in an instant. It was the loss of a sense of meaning, mercifully brief, that overwhelmed me and was the most crushing sensation at the time.
The following days were spent in a daze of readjustment as the process of treatment, while taking a strong physical and mental toll and taxing my resilience, also brought its own sense of purpose: the project to restore my health. Now, nearly five years later and currently treatment free, I have picked up the pieces of life, recovered health and found a well of strength in renewed relationships with family and friends and in the pursuit of photography, which has rather taken over from music as a passion and which I see increasingly as an activity with deep spiritual potential—not for nothing can we think so readily of the divine in terms of light.
One day though my number will come up and my body will be as this fox: a husk, a shell, a mere likeness of a living creature. What will endure from my time on this plane of life? What too will lie beyond the door?