The week was everything I had expected, and more. The sun shone every day and I was submerged in luxury for an entire week, drinking fine wine and eating beautifully cooked local seafood. But I missed the simplicity of the monastery. I missed the happiness I had felt while only worrying about food and shelter. I miss the birds vying for space in the water fountain, and the eagles soaring high in the hazy sky over Kathmandu. I also missed my family, my friends, my home. This is the longest I’ve ever been away, and it’s starting to take its toll. It’s not that I’m bored or lonely, I’m good in my own company, but this just feels like a holiday and something I should be sharing with my wife and kids. It’s a bit weird being on my own, mainly surrounded by elderly couples and families. I watch them and wonder if I’ll be around to enjoy being old, to travel with my wife to exotic places and reminisce about our lives and the journey we’ve had together. To have seen my boys grow into men, to be married, to become fathers, to be working and finding their way in the world. God, I hope so. I’d give anything to be in that position.

And so my journey comes to an end. After a night in a dull business style hotel in Mumbai, I board the 10-hour BA flight to Heathrow. It’s a pleasant flight, and I manage to get some sleep in between the movies.

I reflect on what I have learnt, and the overwhelming lesson for me is not that remarkable, or new. It is simply that love and kindness is everything; people and relationships are more important than anything material; that peace and happiness comes from within; that one’s mind is powerful enough to drive any outcome you want it to, and that faith or hope or belief can change it all.  

Like most of us, we could simply read this in a book, or on the numerous social media platforms via the many “life affirming” apps. The difference is that I felt this. I lived it. I experienced it. Will it make a difference to my cancer? Maybe, maybe not, and I’m not sure it matters. I feel like a better person for my experience, a little calmer, and a little wiser; life is short, quality of life means everything, be present, and make every second count.

And then the moment I’ve been looking forward to for so long happens as I walk through the arrival’s doors and into the arms of Sophie, Oliver, and Charlie. My family, and the most important thing of all.