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  • Susan Elaine Jones

Best story of the month

Medieval leper

This month I have been to a number of Death Awareness events:

All these events were at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, 2018. Each of these events many new thoughts, conversations, exchanges of viewpoints, and personal stories.

But my favourite came out of playing with others at solving the Skeleton Jigsaw (with my photo of one of my skeletons reproduced in full life size) at the Shared Frameworks event in Ipswich Art Gallery as part of the marvellous SPILL festival, "designed to offer space for contemplation and relaxed exchanges around our end‑of‑life choices and care".

This is what I heard over the jigsaw:

Someone recounted a story about her friend who was pet sitting another friend’s dog while she was away on holiday for a fortnight.

People working on the skeleton jigsaw at the SPILL festival

Unfortunately, the dog became very ill whilst the owner was away. (Found our later dog was known to be very ill and not have long to live... but dog sitter wasn’t informed). She rang vet and arranged to take dog in the next day. Across London. And she didn’t drive. The dog died overnight.

The dog sitter thought it best to still take dog to the vet. See what happened. Get answers for her friend for when she’d have to break the bad news to her.

After some searching around, she finally realised the only way to transport the dog across the underground was in a suitcase.

(Yes it’s a questionable decision, but still... determined) She was struggling with the suitcase on some steps at the underground station. A passerby stopped and, seeing her struggling with the heavy case, asked if he could help.

When he took hold of it, he commented on how heavy it was, and asked her what was inside. Embarrassed by the real answer, she lied and said “an expensive hi-fi system”.

At which point the helpful passerby legged it, stealing the suitcase and contents before the dogsitter could even think to react!

Death is difficult. And tragic. And heart wrenching. But is also a part of life, and can be funny. I hope I never forget that. And if I do, then I hope to be reminded of the image of that thief dashing straight to Cash Converters without checking the contents of the suitcase first.

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