“Live life to the fullest” by Jemillah Bickerton

How do you feel about the classic sayings “Live life to the fullest”, “Live like every day is your last”, “You only live once”?

For me I don’t think you can really appreciate/adopt these phrases until you encounter the opposite of what they are saying – death.

This doesn’t mean just the thought of your own death, but the experience of losing someone you love.

In 2011, I was just about to walk into one of my uni tutorials when I got a call from one of my oldest friends.

Her mother did not wake up that morning. Even as I write this down I get chills through my body. She left us way too soon. This was my first shocking encounter with death.

Unfortunately I had another experience later that same year. A university friend, who was epileptic had a seizure which caused a cardiac arrest. She didn’t make it to her 21st birthday. I will always remember our last conversation as it was the night before she left.

It makes you wonder how life can be so cruel to take people so young.

I can’t say I now live by the above sayings after what has happened, however I feel like they weigh deeply on my mind when I hear them said out loud.

You are probably wondering how talk of death leads to me explaining how I ended up back in Melbourne.

In November 2014, my now fiancé was diagnosed with a brain tumour. While things are stable at the moment, he was given a bleak outlook on his future.

Everyone knows that death will come at some point, but how do you go on when someone puts a time stamp on you? I think this is hard to comprehend until it has been thrusted upon you. I have had people tell me “I don’t know how you stay so strong”. To be honest, I don’t know either. I guess the easiest way to describe it is, I’m no good to anyone if I fall apart.

But the true warrior is my fiancé. He has managed to move past the diagnosis and enjoy life for what it is. Yes, a day doesn’t go by where he is not thinking about the tumour in his head. And yes he is still scared and has rough days. But he pulls himself out of it because he knows he doesn’t want to live life like that.

It was May 2015, he had just started chemotherapy, and it was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to go to his favourite beach. It was there we talked about making a change. He said, I have always wanted to live Melbourne but never had the guts to do it. So I just said, let’s make it happen.

Just as we agreed to make the move, he decided to propose. And that is how I ended up back in Melbourne.

Not because I landed my dream job, but because life is worth living.

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