Deborah James’ lesson in dying teaches us how to live better
It’s been a weird old month through the mirror of celebrity. We have Hollywood actresses in court who deny pooping in their own bed (and blame the dog).
Elsewhere, two women best known for marrying men who kick a ball up and down are spending millions to prove which of them is the less snake.
They also have a celebrity famous for doing nothing getting married “for real” after her Las Vegas photo op and before the magazine-worthy event. Strange times indeed.
Amid all of this, there was the quiet, moving grace of a station standing out against a backdrop of cantankerous eejits and glory-milking chancers.
You may not have heard of Deborah James until recently. The BBC broadcaster was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2016 at the age of 35. In addition to a series of treatments to thwart — and later contain — her cancer, she embarked on a colon cancer awareness campaign under the name “Bowelbabe.”
your podcast You, me & the big C shed light on the perceived “embarrassing cancer” that most people don’t fret about or want to talk about.
James has welcomed her diagnosis with incredible dignity and humor, even dressing up as poop on the BBC to highlight the symptoms and warning signs of the cancer. Last month she wrote the post she never wanted. Her stage 4 cancer had spread. In her words, her body “didn’t play along anymore”.
James was now cared for at home with her husband and two young children at the end of his life. And yet she would not go out without firing one last rifle.
“All I’m asking of you, if you’ve ever read a column, followed my Instagram, listened to the podcast, or seen me dressed up as poop for no reason please buy me a drink to see me out of this world by paying the cost.” donate @bowelbabefund, which will allow us to raise funds for further life-saving cancer research,” she wrote on Instagram. “To give more Deborahs more time!”
Something about the way James faced the end of her life while still thinking of others clearly struck a chord with the public psyche. So far the fund has raised over €7 million – a far cry from the €300,000 she had originally hoped for. A dameship bestowed on her by Prince William in her parents’ garden followed not long after.
Not knowing how little or how much time she has left, James’ Instagram output has become a real master class in how to die well, given the power to imagine. She enjoys the feeling of rain on her face. She dances, sunbathes, and smiles amid the sadness every chance she gets.
“I’ve always said that when my time is up I want to step in sideways, with a big smile, no regrets and a tall glass of champagne! Still my intention!” She wrote. And really, what humbling, inspiring words those are.
I’m pretty sure that if I had received the terminal diagnosis that James received, the awfulness and injustice would consume me to the end. On a good day and in good health, I’m prone to bouts of rumination and pessimism.
That’s not to say James isn’t devastated at the prospect of leaving her loved ones and her life behind. But the distance she has traveled on a journey of acceptance and peace is probably the longest, hardest journey any of us will ever have to go through.
It’s a triumph in itself. By learning how to die well, she teaches us all how to live better. It’s a legacy that transcends even those millions.
Beckham’s weigh-in is no help
Time to put the scales down because Victoria Beckham has spoken on the subject.
According to the woman, who has eaten only fish and vegetables for 25 years, being thin is now “old-fashioned”.
Victoria has vowed to ditch her skinny physique and “embrace” her curves, which she has few of them.
“I think women these days want to look healthy and plump. They want some tits — and an ass,” Beckham said.
Now, decades of steamed fish and vegetables could be catching up with their palette. Maybe she just has a clothing line to shill and wants to say the “right” things.
Maybe she understands that when you’re the mother of a 10-year-old girl, embracing your curves should be the very minimum to induce body positivity.
And yet Beckham’s proclamation doesn’t land on the right track.
Perhaps their use of the word “curves” is relative. Does she mean that she treats herself to an extra edamame bean and doesn’t get annoyed if her jeans label says “six” instead of “four”?
The other problem is that Beckham still sees body type as some kind of fashion trend to be aware of.
The thing is, being skinny or curvy has absolutely nothing to do with fashion, it has everything to do with the way you are naturally built.
Let’s not turn it into something that might get naff in a few seasons.
Jake Daniels brave decision a big win for football
I was heartened to see Blackpool’s Jake Daniels (17) come out as gay: the first male English professional footballer since Justin Fashanu 32 years ago.
Given the machismo ingrained in the sport, and football in particular, Daniel’s testimony was particularly strong.
“For a long time I thought I had to hide my truth because I wanted to be a professional footballer and now I am,” he said. “I was wondering if I should wait until I’m retired before coming out.”
His bravery will hopefully inspire others to do the same and reconcile football with modern society.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/deborah-james-lesson-in-dying-well-is-teaching-us-how-to-live-better-41664421.html Deborah James’ lesson in dying teaches us how to live better