The very idea seemed inconceivable. And the first two times, using nothing more than good behaviour and magical thinking, we stopped it I had recently started primary school when I was told my mother was going to die. Prepare for the worst, someone said. Hardly anyone knew at school. A friend was baffled when I was given an unexplained hug by a teacher. It seemed inconceivable that my funny, feisty, feminist mother could die, that a sinkhole could open under my life like that. I decided there must be some prayer, magic spell or extremely good behaviour that would hold off the dark. And then, through the wonder of modern cancer treatment, the brilliant NHS and a good measure of sheer bloody-mindedness, hold off the dark she did.
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