A friend, a colleague, a mother, a wife and a daughter …. Nirvana Azzopardi passed away after bravely battling cancer seven years ago. It still feels like yesterday for those whose life was enriched by her presence. Typically of her character, she made sure that she’s still around, with her words of advice in her last message.
It would have been a pleasure to host her on our platform and enrich it with her writing .
We thought of paying tribute to Nirvana, by honouring her memory and reproducing her last message, which we invite you to stop and read. It’s an eye opener for all of us, who often are busy and kept busy by all we do, not realising that we all have one life.
It is also a little way of paying tribute to a beautiful soul, in a way we can keep her memory alive.
Jesmond Saliba – Managing Editor
Nirvana’s last message and advice
Having cancer doesn’t come with many perks. However, there are a few. One is the chance to tell people you care about that you love them and are grateful for their presence in your life. Another is the huge learning curve you go through. Being faced with your own mortality gives you perspective, lots of it. It aligns life and sets about creating order in the ‘what matters and what doesn’t ‘ department. Yet another perk is that people really listen to you because every word you utter could be your last one, I guess! So I have taken these three advantages and used them to write this letter to all the people who care enough about me to be here today. A letter to thank you and give you some advice. And because these ARE actually my last words, I really hope that you will listen!
The first piece of advice I give you is not to wait till you are sick to tell the people you love that you love them. Even better than telling them, show them. Spend time with them. Write them little notes, buy them little thoughtful presents, surprise them, shower them with hugs and kisses and try and be there for them, no matter what it is they need.
If there are people who have wronged you, and there always are, even if they have not shown remorse, forgive them anyway. Someone once told me that holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot piece of coal, waiting to throw it at someone. In the meantime it is you who is getting burnt. Let go. Forgive.Put work in perspective. Yes we all need to work to earn a living, but not all of us need to work so hard. Work to live; don’t live to work. It’s not worth it. And it’s when you get sick that you realize how insignificant that ‘important’ report was. How further from ‘life or death’ that deal actually was.
There is NOTHING good that we get from smoking. Only disease, bad breath, yellow fingers and a suppressed immune system. Quit. Today. When you leave this church. No excuses.
Love your self sick. Feed your body good stuff. Take exercise. Find time to do the things you enjoy. Every day. Try to dedicate 20 minutes a day to yourself. Doing what you enjoy. Make yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up and read a magazine. Have a relaxing bath. Do some gardening. Go for a walk. Spend time with your pets. 20 minutes a day. It’s not a lot, really.
Do not stress.
Yes you can do it. Stress is how we choose to react to the problems in our lives. I went through a period of extended stress before I got sick. I am sure, beyond any doubt, that this stress was a major contributor towards my illness. It’s just not worth it. No matter who does what to you or your family, don’t let it stress you. It will just make matters worse. Trust your instinct. You know better. If you ever sense that something is wrong, make your doctors rule out your fears with tests, not opinions. Had I done that I would probably not be writing this letter and you would not be here bidding me farewell.Connect with God. Now. Not when you need a miracle. Have faith. Believe in Him. Believe that even though you might not understand it, the universe is unfolding the way it should. He’s got it under control.
Count your blessings.
Daily. I found so much more to be grateful for after I got struck with a terminal illness, it’s quite sad really. I always tell my children, life is not about what you have, but how much you appreciate it.For you parents out there. There is nothing you will do in this life that is more important than bringing up your kids. They are the future; your legacy. Put that phone down. That message can be sent after they go to sleep. Close your laptop. Playing with your child is more important than seeing what rubbish everyone is posting on Facebook today. Enjoy them to the full, give them time, take in their beauty, learn from them, make beautiful memories with them. That is what will matter in the end. Tell them they are wonderful and special and show them that they are loved and valued.So those are some pearls of wisdom from someone who learnt a lot about life while facing her death.
And now I would like to say some thank yous.First of all to all of you for being here. To all of you who have prayed for me, some on a daily basis. I can assure you these prayers were not wasted. They gave me much strength in my darkest moments. For all of you who helped in practical ways, financially and emotionally. To strangers for random acts of kindness.
To all my friends, you know who you are, for the constant flow of home made food, outings for my children and foot rubs! You made the unbearable bearable and I will be eternally grateful.
To my children’s godmothers Fran and Essa. When I chose you, I didn’t know it would come to this but I know now that I could not have made a wiser choice. Thank you girls. I pass on the baton with a happy heart and a peaceful mind.To my wonderful parents who went through what no parent should go through with courage, strength and dignity. Words will never be enough to express my gratitude but I hope you know that there is nothing you could have done better. Thank you.My soul mate Marius for enduring endless days and nights of torment, threats of being turned into a dwarf and other similar abuse. You know it was not me speaking because in my eyes you are quite simply perfect and I love you more than Charlie! (The dog)And finally my two heroes. The reasons I fought so hard and the reason I would not let go. My dearest Sam and Noah. The bravest, strongest, sweetest boys ever. I know it was very very difficult to see mummy go through what she did but you two were amazing and I am so very proud of you.
I will be in your hearts every second of every day. I am with you constantly . But there are also many other people who love you and most of all there is Jesus, your protector. He was working through me to protect you, now he will work through daddy and nannu and nanna and Essa and Fran and all of mummies’ friends who love you so much.I want you all to leave this church today with a renewed sense of life. Let not a day, an hour, a minute go by without being present to it and grateful for it.