Tribute from Dr Lee Thompson, with extracts from Tim’s diary, For When I’m Sleeping

What would you do if you were told that you had cancer?   I’ll be honest: I’m not sure that one of the first things that I would do would be to ask myself how I could use my predicament to help others. But that’s exactly what Tim did.  That was typical of Tim –  a unique person blessed with kindness, compassion, thoughtfulness and selflessness (and the seemingly never-ending supply of truly groan-worthy jokes).

Tim set about writing a diary entitled For when I’m sleeping in which he shares his deepest thoughts and feelings with the aim of providing comfort and reassurance to fellow sufferers, carers and medical staff alike, or as Tim puts it:

“I hope that in reading about one person’s fight that the amazing gift of life is even more special to you than ever before”.

In the diary we meet Tim the person, Tim the scientist, Tim the philosopher, Tim the gardener and Tim the loving husband, father, son and brother. Full of Tim’s unique humour and unflinchingly honesty, For when I’m sleeping is much more than a diary, it is an inspirational roller-coaster ride through the maelstrom of emotions and experiences from first diagnosis to final treatment.

For when I’m sleeping will be published as an e-book later this year and all proceeds will go to support Tim’s charity, Inspiration for Life.  Here are a few extracts …

Day 1

From the moment I stepped out of the hospital, it is as if I am seeing the world and everything in it more intensely than ever before.  The leaves of the trees are greener than they were yesterday, the wild flowers in the grass verges are brighter and more beautiful, the smiles on little kids’ faces are broader and I can hear every sound more clearly.  I’ve always loved the rain, but now I can hear the music of every drop as it hits the roof of the conservatory I’m now sitting in.  The grey sky reveals a tiny dot of blue here and there, but what strong blue, what delicious light bathes us.  Already, my reward for taking the shortest glance at death I have yet allowed myself   is to see our world more clearly, to really see its beauty, maybe for the first time.

 We have an acer in our back garden, one of the ones with dark red leaves.  If you look closely, the very young leaves that have just sprung are bright red, the older ones are darker.  You get hundreds of leaf families living in the same tree.  And there’s a snail climbing up the trunk with a yellow and dark brown shell.  It’s very striking.  Some of the rain is dripping down the bark and the snail is revelling in the wetness.  A solitary bee has just buzzed past, probably on its way home after a busy day collecting pollen.  I can see more of these things than before, yet they were always there.  I should have looked harder.


Day 126

I told them my latest joke I made up the other night. It’s truly terrible but let me tell you it:

“Did you hear about the time when Robin Hood became addicted to chocolate? He gave up archery because he ran out of aeros!”

I did warn you.

 [I didn’t think we could have a memorial service for Tim without one of his terrible jokes]

Day 128

I’ve been thinking about how small we are within the context of the universe today.  We are so small yet we can have such influence at least within our own planet.  And we can learn so much about our universe as we have done using all the telescopes designed ever since Galileo’s and Newton’s instruments back in the 1600s.  Sometimes it’s easy to think about ourselves as insignificant due to our size, yet we are not.

Day 176

Tim’s Final Diary Entry

I have always tried to live my life by an ethos that until now I couldn’t find the words to describe. But the events of the last months, in which I have witnessed how the beauty of the human spirit is so prevalent, have enabled me finally to put into words how I feel about what might be a caring way to lead your life. I have tried to follow the doctrine that “nobody is special, but everybody is very special”. I hope that you all enjoy your lives and experience the love and joy that I have experienced in mine so far.

Love is something you only fully appreciate when there is a chance it will end, at least in this world, but there is always that chance for everyone, so please make sure the special people in your life know what you feel for them now – and I mean now.

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