I thought I was facing my own death as I listened to the words “we will prepare for end of life”.

It was a frank conversation and as I sat with tears running down my face there was a moment that felt like time had just stopped.

All that separated me from Roberto in the bed next to me was a thin blue shower curtain. Someone I had known only a few days and now I was with him on his final days on this planet.

I saw Roberto the day I walked in for surgery, 7am on November 22 and with a strained breath he said: “Good morning, I am Roberto.”

As I got undressed into my gown and had my tabs put on and a few serious chats I was left to lie on my bed and wait. 

It was close to 11am and my nurse said, “It’s time, David.”

As we walked towards the theatre, I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to come back.

I thought it was my last walk.

I know now it wasn’t, but I guess after 14 years I thought my time was up. Crazy, I know.

Several hours later I woke, I could move and was back on the ward that evening. The team at Queen Square in London had worked another miracle on me. 

The pain was a sign I was alive.

The bright light penetrating my eyes like a laser beam hurt and I lay with a wet towel over my face. 

I could not move much as my head hurt like someone was drilling into it.

The next few days were hard as I was left lying just with my thoughts on how I build again from this. 

But in a turn of events my headache started to fade and by the weekend I was standing. 

My legs were only able to hold me upright for a few seconds but it was a step in the right direction.

It wasn’t long till standing became walking with a frame, and I knew my fears around this surgery were only that.

I had started to already make a stronger recovery than ever before.

Now I could walk, but I could also see Roberto and he was in a bad way. He was unable to move and unable to breathe without pain.

Yet each time he saw me he spoke, mostly congratulating me on walking. 

He never moaned or complained and would only say sorry in the morning as he worried that he had kept us awake with his breathing. 

Even though I hadn’t known him long, I could tell his character was that of a good man.

As I lay in my bed listening to him in so much pain, I felt so helpless; I knew he was suffering.

I lay from 2am till 7am wide awake wishing there was something I could do.

I just told him he wasn’t alone.

I wasn’t sure what lay ahead that day, but Roberto had doctors come and go all day and as I sat in my seat this tall Scottish doctor arrived with a nurse.

My friend opposite me who had gone into cardiac arrest a few weeks ago and had CPR to save his life put his music on as I think he knew what the conversation was going to be. I sat listening to the doctors explain options but, at 54, Roberto decided he had lived his life and one option was to make him comfortable and he would maybe live two more days.  

I sat listening to my other friend in bay four’s music. Eva Cassidy’s “Fields of Gold” played as staff started to move Roberto’s stuff into a private room.

I knew this was the last time we would see Roberto, so I got out of my chair and onto my frame and stood at the end of my bed to say goodbye. 

We shared a moment that will stay with me forever and even in what would be his final breaths he found energy to say something to me: “Keep going, David.”

What followed broke the rest of us.

As the porters came and cleaned Roberto’s bay, I stood. To watch as they wiped his name from the board, I just broke, my eyes closed, and my heart sank. As I opened my eyes to see an empty bay, the only thing I could feel was the tears running down my face.

I knew little of Roberto’s life yet witnessed his death.

I knew he loved acting and was in both Star Wars and The Crown. 

I was blessed to leave hospital this week and as I walked in Hyde Park, I started to also understand why this hit me so hard.

As I sat listening to Roberto, I could not escape the thought that I was getting an insight into what my own death may be like.

However, for now I am blessed to see another sunset as so many won’t get that chance, and although there might not be a cure for my tumour I can work on healing. 

RIP Roberto.