Remembering That Death Is Not The End

by Paula K. V. Radice

It was lovely to see so many friends at Northampton, and once again, the whole thing was a triumph of organisation by John, Chris and Keith, all despite the hour-long car park wait at 4 o'clock on the Saturday morning, with the fire alarm ringing in our ears. Well done, boys (and your behind-the-scenes hard-working wives!) The greatest relief of the weekend was that it wasn't Dylan fans who set off the fire extinguishers, and the greatest pleasure was in re-discovering the fact that Dylan fans are the kindest and most caring people on the planet (bar none). They never let you down; at least, the ones I know  don't.  (If you hang around with ones of the other sort, you've got no-one but yourself to blame).


Some time ago I wrote about one particular Dylan friendship that has meant so much to me over the last six or seven lives, my friendship with Monica. I wrote about my admiration for her and her husband, Derek, who were meeting the challenge of his newly-diagnosed cancer with amazing strength and dignity. That courage and perseverance, on both of their parts, has continued unabated for the last two years, through many ups and downs as the cancer has run its course, but tragically it is a fight that was not to be won, and as I write this Derek is very close to dying. 

I have been spending as much time as I can with them both. Monica is nursing Derek at home, and doing the most fantastic job imaginable in terribly difficult circumstances. I am, as ever, in complete awe of her single-mindedness, determination and energy. Being with them in the past few weeks has been inspirational, and (unexpectedly) as life-affirming an experience as I have ever had, and I know nobody will mind if I can't get my thoughts around to Bob Dylan this month. He's still there, and he keeps cropping up in conversations Monica and I have had recently, but Monica can't listen to him  (and won't be able to for quite a while, I guess - and I understand that feeling: he just gets too close the truth sometimes for it to be bearable) and I cannot summon up any enthusiasm for reading and reviewing books just at the moment. 

Next month, a review of Andy Muir's book. In the meantime, if you have a God, please send up a prayer for Derek and Monica.