I’m writing this during a few days in the Lake District. My friend is hosting a house party and over the week, twenty-six different people have come and gone in various combinations and for varying amounts of time. It’s a blast! The weather is good, we are eating, drinking and laughing a lot, exploring the area and enjoying each other’s company.

But the holiday is also tinged with sadness. My friend, unless a miracle occurs, is dying. She has been given a prognosis of twelve months. She spends the morning in bed so that she can be with us in the afternoon and evening. Her pain and restricted mobility is becoming obvious. Yet through it all she is celebrating and encouraging us to do the same.

She is celebrating friendship, a life well lived and the life that is yet to come. Her strong Christian faith is sustaining her and allowing her to face the reality of what is likely to happen. No one wants to die – but my friend has no intention of killing off the life left to her by focussing on death.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” My friend is choosing this as the time to celebrate life. A time to weep and mourn will come, but for now she celebrates all that life has held and will hold. I’m learning from her that ‘what ifs’ can be thieves of joy.

Whatever this summer holds for you, may you find time to celebrate life with those you love.

Mary Hawes