79 A Celebration of Life

I have to admit there is a big element of “Ooh look!” in my blogs as they tend to cover whatever happens to be going on in my life at any particular moment. That is in fact the beauty, and possibly the attraction, of writing a blog in this fast moving, media-infused world. Whatever is occurring is what arises. Sometimes I laugh in it, sometimes I cry. This one is more at the tearful end of the spectrum. Last week I heard of the passing of Mario Reading, who was a huge inspiration in my cancer journey, and yesterday we went to his funeral, which was a beautiful, beautiful affair. There were black Friesian horses with long wavy manes pulling the carriage containing the coffin, and I was allowed to stroke their lovely soft noses. I rest my case.


My first reaction when I heard the news was that I couldn’t/wouldn’t go to the funeral. Given that I can cry for England at the drop of a hat at both weddings and funerals, and also at ‘The Last Night of the Proms’ (strange but true), I knew that I could easily drown the congregation in the floods of my tears, which would be completely inappropriate. I only met Mario in person a handful of times and couldn’t be considered a close friend, so why am I so upset?

Mario was a hugely successful author selling literally millions of books worldwide – including the Nostradamus Prophecies – in many different languages. His life and adventures were like something out of Boy’s Own, and apparently the more extreme the activity the more he was up for it; he belonged to all kinds of crazy groups, whose sole intention seemed to be to discover how creatively the members could risk their very lives. I knew very little of this side of him, just hearing about it from his friends, and from the beautiful eulogy to his life at the service yesterday, and it was very different from what I expected. The Mario I came to know (through the Village Writers Group in Brockenhurst) was a deeply spiritual, compassionate and optimistic man who had been bravely living with and loving his cancer for over twenty-five years. His love and zest for life were such that everything else came first and the cancer came second, and his advice to me was to write, write, and then write some more, and pour it into the blog. I did, and the release it provided was a very important part of my journey. Then, as the blog became a book, Mario gave me the most beautiful endorsement, which meant all the more coming from someone who had lived with cancer for so long.

I know that he didn’t want to be known and remembered as someone who was defined by the disease; I’m sure he felt that the important parts of his life were so much bigger and so much more exciting and louder and more colourful than most of us could even begin to comprehend, and that the whole cancer experience came a very poor and trailing last in a long and illustrious line of truly unforgettable memories. But just like I felt I had gone through the wrong door, leading into the cancer ward rather than the health club (way back in Blog #1), so do I believe that most people feel the same when they get such a diagnosis, and that anyone connected with a cancer experience can be encouraged by someone as brave and open as Mario. To continue, nay, actively pursue life with such love and gusto, in spite of participating in numerous clinical trials – each one coming with the increasing hope of overwhelming the foe within in order to spend more time with loved ones – amidst fund raising, writing more books, and doing the things that make life worth living, is to become an inspiration to others.

So, dear Mario, I raise my glass to you (you did say to keep enjoying the wine) and thank you for being there for me when it counted. Your optimism will live on in my heart. But not all that crazy life-threatening stuff you did. I’m a total wuss and I like to play safe :-)

May you soar high with the eagles and enjoy your boundless, new-found and well-deserved freedom. The heavens have indeed gained a bright star.


Mario Reading

1953 – 2017




About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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4 Responses to 79 A Celebration of Life

  1. Sue Joiner says:

    A fabulous piece about Mario which reflects how so many of us saw him,. I too could not call myself a close friend but like many I admired him enormously and I thought of him as a friend. I knew him for around 15 years in his capacity as a writer and in all that time he was gracious, tolerant and kind. He lived by the maxim that we ought never to knowingly give hurt to others.
    Both clever and wise, he, an immensely skillful and very successful writer, regularly gave his time generously and freely to other fledgeling writers. We at Village Writers have lost our Maestro, and like everyone who knew him we have also lost a very special person. How much greater will be the loss to his family: Of that family I had met only Claudia his wife (‘the love of my life’ he said) his son Laurie and Eloise his little grandaughter, and, Mario told us often, it was for love of them and the desire to provide for their futures without him, that he so determinedly held on to life.
    And I believe that’s why we, who felt like you, Margaret, that we had no right to cry, found ourselves crying….for the waste on an earthly level. Latterly such an exhausting struggle for Mario and his family, now over, but when energy returns to the family, Mario will not..He has ‘gone’
    But, post funeral, it’s your final words Margaret, ‘May you soar high with the eagles…’ that have me crying again because you remind us, and I should not need reminding, that on a Spiritual level, Mario and his influence have not ‘gone’.. May that influence serve to move his many earthly friends to (continue?) helping, and caring for,his family as he Mario would have cared for them himself..


    • Ah thanks Sue. Wasn’t it a beautiful day? Everything about it was so ‘Mario’, it couldn’t have been more perfect. If you have an email for Claudia I’d appreciate you letting her know about the blog. xx


  2. Sue Joiner says:

    You have me crying again! Yes such a beautiful funeral, and I suddenly found myself remembering the moment when the powerful perfume of those perfect cream lilies on his coffin, pervaded the church. And yes I wondered whether Claudia had received your personal eulogy. I will be writing to her this evening and will send on this blog link.
    It was not a good idea for me to write during the black hours and then publish without reflection, so might I ask you to edit my last sentence in the above reply to read
    ‘May that influence serve to move his many earthly friends to continue helping and caring for his family as he Mario would have cared for them himself.’.
    My first attempt is not what I intended.
    Love Sue xxxxxx.


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