Recently I went to see the film The Fault in Our Stars with my two teenage children. Based upon the book of the same name by John Green it was about two teenagers both diagnosed with terminal cancer, who form a relationship at a cancer support group, try to avoid falling in love because of their life-limiting illnesses, and then do fall in love, before one of them dies.
Along the way, many wise observations are made about life and death and mortality, and the way we handle death in this society, and our failure to speak the truth or be “real” in the presence of life-limiting illness.
This was such a poignant film, especially the scene in Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where both are brought face to face with another teenager whose life was also cut short – for a very different reason.
With this film in my mind, we recently made a walk up Milverton Hill to Old Milverton Church, near my home in Warwick, where there is a memorial plaque to Ruby Johnson (one of my daughter’s former fellow-pupils at school) who died of leukaemia in 2009 age 13.
Walking up this hill to Old Milverton Church is always poignant for me, because I now associate the summit of that hill, and that quiet churchyard, with Ruby’s lovely and touching memorial.