Losing things you love can be hard. Losing people you love is devastating.

As a family we’re just now dealing with the loss of my much-loved sister-in-law. As a caring and responsible teacher she touched the lives of literally hundreds of children. Valuing them. Understanding them. Guiding them. Giving them love and attention as and when they needed it. Before ill health robbed her of her ability to work, and ultimately of her life.

In 2012 I lost my father, Len Scott – a man I loved and respected more and more the longer he lived. He died at the ripe old age of 98, keeping his cherished independence for all but the last three months of his life. And that despite losing 80% of his sight to macular degeneration, and losing the love of his life 15 years earlier. I can measure how drastically that affected me by the impact it had on my work. For at least two years I just couldn’t put my heart into it, and ultimately that all but destroyed my business.

That wasn’t helped by my then business partner being – let’s say – rather less than supportive. Towards the (very bitter) end of our relationship one of my truest champions was my best mate, the amazing Mike Scott Rohan. We had almost diametrically opposed political views (and in later life there were some topics I just wouldn’t debate with him) but he was a totally supportive business partner, and an inspiring and dedicated creative partner in all the fiction and non-fiction we wrote together,

We lost him in 2018. And I miss him. Almost as much as I miss my father.

So – before my diagnosis – I was mentally preparing for what might, inevitably, be the worst loss of all: that of my much-loved partner and longed-for wife, Rosemary. It seemed, ironically, that as the younger and fitter partner, and a child of exceptionally long-lived parents, I would be the one left alone.

But in August it became horribly clear that would not be the case.

I understand the burden of loss. I don’t want to inflict that burden on anyone else. But it’s not something we get a choice about. So what can I do?

Make memories. Memories that will stay when I’m gone. Things Rosemary – and all my family and friends – can look back on with joy. And I know that can be done, because of an opportunity I grabbed with both hands during our visit to Anatolia. Without worrying about whether it was safe, or whether we could afford it, or whether it was a ‘good idea’.

Our hot air balloon flight over the ‘Fairy Chimneys’ is, and remains, one of our most cherished memories. With good reason.