Sunday, June 6

Celebrating life and love


I’ve found myself in a reflective mood this week; the product of three unrelated events. Garry and I went to the theatre on Thursday evening to see Tommy Murphy’s adaption of Holding the Man, an award-winning book by the late Tim Conigrave. There’s a copy on our bookshelf that I bought shortly after it was published in 1995. It’s an autobiographical story of Tim’s life with his childhood sweetheart, published shortly after his death from AIDS in October 1994.

However, unlike most love stories, this one has a twist. Tim’s partner of 15 years is a man - John Caleo. The author’s skill is remarkable. His book is an incredibly moving, and very readable, love story. I’ve read reviews in the past where Tim revealed that he intentionally romanticized the story. He did so in part to eulogize his partner’s memory, and to remind readers that love is a truly universal emotion.


As a play, Holding the Man was both funny and deeply moving. Matt Zeremes and Guy Edmonds held their own as the respective lead characters; John and Tim. The West End production also stars several high profile actors including Simon Burke and Jane Turner, better known as Kath in the Australian comedy series Kath and Kim. We even had a celebrity sit immediately behind us in audience; Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame.

Afterwards I was sufficiently moved to retrieve the yellowing paperback from our dusty shelves and read it again. The book remains a true classic, reminding me how precious life is; and how special is the gift of love. Life should be lived to the full. You can never predict what tomorrow will bring.

My reflective mood was subsequently reinforced by news from Sydney later that evening. Garry’s father was admitted to hospital in considerable pain. Fortunately the diagnosis proved nothing more sinister than an unpleasant dose of Shingles. Ironically, I discovered the following day that my own father is currently suffering the same aliment. Both men should bounce back in no time.

Reflecting on the fragility of health can make one morose. However, the week also brought unexpectedly positive news. I learnt yesterday that my father’s ongoing cancer therapy is proving a resounding success. His latest scans reveal a complete absence of any discernable tumors; a result far better than we dared hope for. He’s now unlikely to require further treatment for five years. Likewise my mother was recently declared disease-free by doctors following her own breast cancer surgery. It’s wonderful to know my parents have been granted a reprieve. Let’s go live!

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