Layla is dying of cancer at 32. She has become obsessed about something her palliative care nurse said. That often when people are dying they tell her about vivid visits from loved ones already gone. She has always taken some comfort in the fact that death may be the only way to see her best friend again. Eva took her own life in her early twenties. But now that the time has come, she is scared to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. What if Eva isn’t at the other end? Layla begins a mystical train ride, through this hinterland between the living and dead, through green pastures and quiet waters. But as she resists the journey, the landscape gets darker and more frightening. The train pulls into a platform and Eva gets on to guide her to the end of the line. Eva shows her that there is no finality and that love, spirit and energy means she will never truly disappear. Layla can finally accept her fate.
I have chosen Psalm 23:4, the Psalm of David. Before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged 26 I was a staunch atheist who didn’t believe in any kind of afterlife or spirituality. In 2019 my best friend killed herself and my cancer returned, rendering the disease stage 4, incurable and life-shortening. It was the most traumatic yet eye-opening year of my life. However, one day, I had a vision of my friend which was completely unexplainable by any science. It wasn’t a dream but it wasn't part of this world. It led me on a path of embracing the idea of unknowingness around death/life/spirituality. This is what Psalm 23:4 captures the essence of in a really meaningful way for me. That there are no real endings and that there can also be joy, guidance, and love, as you walk through the valley of death. I have reimagined David’s journey but made it personal to me - taking inspiration from the old railway that runs along the Kent coast where I live and also what I would like to believe will happen when the time comes for me.