Live Long and Proper


Just like a Buzzin’ Fly
Come into your life
Now I float away
Like honey in the sun

Tim Buckley


It’s hard to know what – or whether – to write when something sudden happens. Publishing negative content in our lives is not generally encouraged by social media and such.

Do we mention what’s really going on in life, or do we brush over it with a bright yellow wash? Sweetened like honey in the sun.

My Stepdad passed away last month. August 28th. I happened to be in the UK at the time and witnessed the immediate consequences. Finding him outside of the pub, life support at the hospital, seeing my Mum’s heart break.

Phil was loved by many people. As a pub landlord, it’s fair to say the neighbourhood of Alsager was in shock from the news.

No matter how many conversations one has about death, how many times someone says they are comfortable with it, nothing can prepare you for the shock and pain of losing someone you love.

Or more – watching other people you love losing someone they love.

A friend wrote me a message shortly after it happened:

“It’s like the only thing we can truly expect from life is death, but then when it happens to a person we love it’s so shocking, life changing, out of this world.”

It’s exactly like that. Life will always come to an end, it’s one of the only things we know is certain. The sun will rise, then float away.

What’s nice, in a strange, not-nice-situation kind of way, is how supportive people have been during this time. People have been so loving, giving and understanding. Mum has been surrounded by flowers for the last three weeks. Countless friends, customers, acquaintances or even people who weren’t on good terms have sent messages and condolence letters.

When Nik flew to England shortly after it happened, we’d just been given two new chickens and he had to leave them with our friends. In one day they built Pito and Pita a little chicken house of their own to keep them safe from the older hens.

Anna & Dave watered our garden and left a care package of food for us (including cake) so we had something tasty to return to.

The little or large acts of kindness, the coop construction or the sympathetic sentence, all truly make this process that bit easier. It’s good not to feel alone in grief, and have that reminder that people really do understand. The love is very much appreciated.

Nik & I got home early last week, received some kindly hugs and apple chutney from neighbours, and said hello to the mountains and of weeds. It’s a new phase of processing from a distance. Sometimes it’s very hard, like now, which is why I chose to write this.

Doing things other than contemplation can seem arbitrary in a time like this. It’s easy to think: “what’s the point?” In trivial tasks, weeding, organising, doing things just for the sake of it. Purposelessness can be consuming.

But Phil was an advocate of seizing the day, living life for all its worth, and that’s what he did.

I once misquoted the Star Trek phrase live long and prosper to “live long and proper”, which Phil found great hilarity in reminding me of. He once painted a picture of my silhouette dancing in the sunset in Turkey, and wrote the phrase along the side of the canvas.

Good advice, I think.

Who knows how many lives we have, but as far as we know this is the one we’ve got. If there’s anything I learned from Phil, it’s to not waste a moment of it and to follow my heart, take risks, have fun, live life as an adventure. I feel like everything sounds cliché but it is so true.

Life is transient, an ever-changing, unpredictable journey that someday will end. “Death is a mirror in which the entire meaning of life is reflected.”*

The reflection of Phil’s? Be kind; have fun; listen to good music; read lots; think about things; don’t take life too seriously; keep an open mind, love generously.


*Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying

5 thoughts on “Live Long and Proper

  1. Very nice thoughts Ellie!
    It was very nice to see you both again here in Asturias…
    The best remedy against grief is love. And if that doesn’t help, increase the dosis.
    And hugs, lots of hugs.


  2. Thank you for a lovely post Ellie. Your words are succinct, totally relevant and raw. You are right about the shock – you can’t prepare for that but what’s worse is the pain you observe in others. That lives on and contrary to the saying – time often doesn’t heal the hurt or the heart. We’ll all rally around, try and say the rights things at the right times but we all know…..we all know.

    Phil was immense. He wasn’t just a friend, more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know and more than I ever told him. I glance at my record collection and a huge percentage of it is due to his influence. I’m a massive fan of music so it’s a wonderful legacy Phil has left me and one that will never be forgotten.

    Finally, it was really special to spend some time with yourself and Nik despite the circumstances. I needed the hugs, the conversations, and the chance to start to share the times spent with Phil. Long may those memories last.

    Take care.



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