Tag Archives: death

Time is a great healer


My dear brother. Heh. You’d laugh if you read that. Then you’d ask me what I was after.

It’s already been four days since you left us.  Four days in which our lives have been turned upside down. How has that time gone so quickly? It’s going too fast.

I don’t want the time to go by because in no time at all it will be a month since you passed and then year and then ten years.

It’s a really bizarre thing.  Although our hearts are breaking, life is going on as normal. The dog still needs a walk, jobs need to be done, the postman still turns up wanting a banter and because I don’t want to be rude I’ll banter back. It’s an unreal reality, it feels like a dream. Can’t anyone else see that nothing is normal any more?

I want to be back at your bedside, stroking your hair and telling you I love you.  It’s just too hard to let you go yet.  I know that he kindest thing, was to let you go, your life would have been intolerable to you had you survived.

I should gain some comfort from that, but I’m not.  Not yet.

Time just needs to stand still for a while and let I feel every stab of the pain of your loss because  the depth of pain I’m feeling means that you are still close to us.

As time passes,  the  memory of you will fade along with the pain we are feeling right now and I’m not ready for that.  Rick, can you just get someone to  stop the world for a little while? Just for a little while, till I’m ready to move forward again.

 

My Bruvver


What can I tell you about my brother? Listen to the song, it sums him up perfectly as a child – and indeed as an adult.

When my brother phones and says, “You couldn’t do me a massive favour could you?” your heart sinks because you know it’s going to be something totally unreasonable. After a wail of “OH RICK-EEEE, NOOO!” you usually end up doing what he wants, cringing as you go.

His latest idea was a corker. “You couldn’t do me a massive favour could you?  Can you just …..” (Just!?  Fecking JUST!?!)…………his idea was for me to  just find a nice lady dog to mate his twelve year old, half chihuahua, half King Charles spaniel, completely blind, senile, arthritic dog  with. “Well, he won’t last for ever, I’d love a puppy from him.”

“No. It’s not happening,  he’s not exactly a catch is he? I’m not even sure he could manage it, he’s about 65 years old in dog years. Who’s going to want to breed their pedigree dog with him? No, Rick, no.” *puts the phone down really quickly so he can’t talk me round.*

As a child he was a walking accident. His glasses were always fixed with sellotape. His shoes regularly ended up in the canal after he’d kick a ball of a stone or even just set off at a run. Talking of running, he’s the only child I ever saw kick his own backside as he ran.

How? I have no idea. Spindly legs and knock knees, I suppose.

I could list his exploits for many a post and not run out of tales to tell.

After one of his many accidents he used to stand in front of our mum with a look on his face that would translate as ‘please don’t kill me.’ Of course, we were brought up in the days when it was perfectly acceptable, indeed encouraged, to give your children a good walloping and Ricky had his fair share of them. Mum would flail at him with both hands while he just curled his spindly body into a ball, elbows and knees sticking out everywhere. In the end mum would give up as he was hurting herself more than she was hurting him so she’d just shout as she walked away fuming, “Oh, RICKY, You’d make a fecking saint swear. ”

She wasn’t wrong.

As we grew up Ricky became my best friend. We’d go out together at the weekends, get drunk and then go back to my house with our respective partners and friends, listen to Pink Floyd and contemplate the meaning of life. Other times we rocked out to Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Deep Purple, ZZ Top or any of the other bands that took us through our teens, twenties and thirties.  We laughed, conversed, played poker and just generally all enjoyed being in each other’s company. Good times.

It was Rick, who when he met Boofuls for the first time, recognised that there was something special going on. I think you’ve met your match there, he said.  A prophesy that was proved to be correct. It was almost exactly  year later when he walked me down the aisle and gave me way at our wedding.

Latterly, Rick has settled into a more sedate lifestyle. Not totally of his own choice. A bad accident a few years ago left him less mobile than previously and years of smoking  took their toll. Really, people with asthma and emphysema shouldn’t be smoking but  suggestions that he stop smoking fell on deaf ears as you’d expect.

Last week, Rick was suffering from a particularly bad chest infection. “Rick, get to the doctor’s, this is ridiculous. ” He must have felt gruesome because he did exactly that.

While he was there he collapsed and suffered heart failure. I suppose if you are going to collapse then the best possible place to do it is in a building full of doctors. He’s always been jammy like that, our Rick.

He was given CPR and then taken to our local hospital critical care unit where he was put onto a ventilator, dialysis and all manner of other things I don’t even have names for. Tubes, drains, sensors, clips, bottles seemed to be coming in and out of him  from every angle.

It turned out that Ricky had developed pneumonia which was just too much for his already overworked organs to deal with. He suffered multiple organ failure and sepsis.

For the last few days  the family and a couple of close friends of his have been with him almost constantly, taking it in turns to sit with him, chat to him, stroke his hair and listen to the constant beep beep beep of his life support machines.

Yesterday morning I  got the call we’d all been dreading. “Get the family together and get up to the hospital as soon as possible.”  At the  hospital we were informed gently and sensitively by the doctors that Ricky wasn’t responding to any treatment, in fact his  condition continued to deteriorate  despite massive medical intervention.

The decision was made to turn off his life support.

We  all said our goodbyes individually and then we surrounded his bed, stroking his head and holding his hands as his life support machines were turned off.

It took him less than five minutes to die. He slipped away listening to his favourite song ever, ‘Never Before’ by Deep Purple.

We don’t know if he was aware of what was happening at all, if he knew he was dying. We don’t know if he heard the nurse telling us how it would happen.  We don’t know if he heard or understood that we were going to turn off his machines and kill him by doing so.

We don’t know if he heard us tell him that we love him.

I do know that when I noticed a tear in the corner of his eye as his life left his body I fell apart.

That tear will haunt me until the day I die.

My funny, clumsy, clever, cheeky, irreverent, unreasonable, amazing brother, it has been an honour to be your sister.

I love you.

Copyright Copyright

 

 

The post I don’t want to write


This is the one I’ve been avoiding all week. The post that makes me fill up with tears every time I think about writing it.

Of course, I have to do it if I’m to fulfil my commitment to myself about documenting the events of daily life to preserve the memories that we create every day.

The trouble with documenting things for posterity is that by the very nature of life some will be happy memories, some will evoke an emotion and some, like this one will cause the tears to fall.

Where to start? I’ll keep it in chronological order and I’ll start at my cousin Ann’s wedding in late 2012.

Just six weeks after her mother had died. Everyone put on a brave face and  chatted, sang, danced and  made the best of the celebration even though the tragic loss of the bride’s Mum to cancer was the massive elephant in the room.  

At that wedding the brides sister, Hilary confided to me that she also had cancer but was hopeful about beating it.

My poor uncle just spent the day looking lost and forlorn. Every now and then he’d take a photograph out of his pocket and  stare at it.

Last Saturday Hilary married the love of her life.  A lovely chap who we’d met for the first time at Ann’s wedding.

The marriage took place on a special licence. They were married in the hospice with only a few close family members present. I’m sure you can join the dots.

While we were all happy for them it was heavy with sadness as we all knew that they’d only have a short time together.

Then on Tuesday, Boofuls took an early morning phone call to say that his brother had sadly passed away.

It wasn’t unexpected, he’s been ill for some time, hence our many trips to Devon in the last few months. Isn’t it funny though? Even though you know it’s coming it still hits you like a sledgehammer.  I’m not sure it’s possible to prepare yourself for someones death.

As deaths go it was as nice as it can be, lying in his own bed with his wife’s arms around him as he slipped away.

Boofus and I are going down to Devon on Tuesday for his funeral. On the way back we planned to pop in to see my cousin.

About an hour ago I got a phone call to say that Hilary had died.

Eight days after her wedding and two weeks short of her fortieth birthday.

I can’t find any more words.

A love story


We all have our ideas of love. Some have a romantic, hearts and flowers and endless romantic interludes.

Anyone who’s been in a relationship for any amount of time quickly finds out that isn’t the reality of it.

Day to day life, health issues, niggly habits and taking each other for granted all take their toll on the hearts and flowers sugar rush of a fresh new relationship.

Despite all that, couples manage to stay together, the heady love they felt at the beginning of the relationship deepening  and evolving over the years.

Boofuls and I used to sit and watch old couples in pubs and restaurants just sitting together, not talking, both wrapped up in their own thoughts. “If we ever get like that it’ll be time for us to move on but we’ll never get like that, we love each other too much for that.” we’d say with the arrogance and smugness of a newly in love couple who thought no one else could possible have experienced a love as strong as ours.

And yet, here we are, twenty eight years later.

We are now that couple. The couple who just sit, gazing into the middle distance.

However, now we have an insight into it that all those years of marriage have brought about.

Content just to be breathing the same air.  Small talk isn’t needed, we don’t feel the need to entertain each other. We’re just happy to be close to each other. We don’t need to be gazing into each others eyes an declaring our love loudly and publicly.

This week I heard about the parents of a school friend.

Her parents had been married for many years. Sadly, her father died a short time ago. A massive shock to the whole family.

Her mother survived two long weeks without him and then she too passed away to be with her husband.

They are having a joint funeral.

Like Boofuls and me, they made a vow to be together till death parted them.

Their love has transcended death.

That’s a love story.

Miracles do Happen


It’s a long one this, so you might want to get yourself a coffee and a garibaldi biscuit.

Seven and a half years ago my dear old Mum shuffled off her mortal coil and set off to heaven to get  fitted for her angel wings.

My Mum was what my friend calls ‘a creaking gate’ never really having good health  but instead she had years and years of chronic illness, predominantly heart and lung disease and a low level cancer brought on by forty years of smoking. The sum total of these conditions  meant that she ended her fiercely independent life being attached to one end of a long tube –  long enough for her to walk around her flat, the other end of the tube was attached to an oxygen bottle. For a woman as independent as my Mum that must have been a living hell, she was effectively a prisoner in her own home – and it went on for years.

Being the woman that she was, when she was diagnosed with cancer she decided that it was only right that she should take herself back to her roots to die – and against vehement opposition from all the family she moved back to Cardiff to see out her days in her home town.

Every year for about ten years she’d announce, “This’ll be my last Christmas”, and for quite a few of them we were quietly inclined to agree with her.   Many’s the time we had a call from  some hospital or other to say that she had been taken in and was ‘very poorly’, hospital speak for, ‘brace yourself, this could be it.’  but time and time again she bounced back and amazed everyone. Not least herself, I think.

Of course being in receipt of one of these phone calls  meant that we immediately stopped whatever we were doing and jumped in the car to start the race against the Grim Reaper and get to Cardiff – a journey that could take anything between three and a half and six hours – to be there ‘at the end’. It always amazes me how many euphemisms we can find for unpleasant subjects we’d rather not face head on.

Anyway…*shakes head to stop reverie*

When she started her cancer treatment the oncologist told my brother and me, who had come with me on this particular trip, that the treatment he was about to administer would probably kill her, if it didn’t then the cancer would. Lose lose. Not one of her, or my, better days.

Once again she bounced back and once again amazed everyone.

Eventually, after about five years, weaker, sicker and poorer, she decided that since she hadn’t managed to die in Cardiff she would move back here for a while.

As much as she hated to admit it, she did enjoy having family around and it certainly made life easier for her. For a good few years she was relatively healthy and had a decent quality of life. As for us, we discovered that lugging her oxygen tanks around is certainly good for building upper body strength.

But eventually, the time came, as we knew it would because it was never really far away.

I remember it vividly. I had a room full of clients at the time when I got the call to say that I really needed to be at the hospital NOW. It’s really very  difficult to be light and cheerful; “Oh yes! That really suits you!” when you know that your Mum is hours away from death. I got rid of the clients and raced up to the hospital, thankfully three miles away not 200 miles away in Cardiff.

Deep in a coma it was clear that she was on her way. The pain response tests showed nil response, not from Mum anyway, the rest of us were cringing as we watched, best not to dwell on that bit.

Time dragged on. Her breathing became heavier and heavier until……..

She sat up and asked for a cup of tea.

WHAT?!?

In the space of two hours she made a full recovery. For a full week she sat up, chatted, enjoyed her food and was her old, chirpy self. Sadly, towards the end of the week we could see that she was starting to fail again and I think we all knew that this time this would be it. We’d all had a chance to say whatever we wanted to say and spent a few extra precious days with her before she finally slipped away peacefully. No regrets, no guilt, just a feeling of gratitude that she wasn’t suffering any more.

Never in a million years did I ever think that a similar situation would arise in our lives again – but it has.

Our beloved dance teacher has been desperately ill.  Suffering from cancer and kidney failure his prognosis was grim. His heart stopped sixteen times one night only to start again of it’s own accord. The nurse kindly told his wife to prepare herself as it would only be a couple of hours before he slipped away.

In an amazingly similar situation to my Mum’s and against all odds he suddenly sat up and demanded ice cream! Since then his journey to recovery has been slow and torturous with many setbacks along the way. From the little bits that we’ve been able to find out without intruding,  we have discovered that he has progressed from being in a coma to talking about turning up to watch  the dance exams at his school in a couple of weeks.

Today, my phone rang. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the caller ID stated that it was dance teacher. ‘Oh no! Please don’t let that be someone ringing to tell us that he’s passed away!’ went through my mind as I answered it.

It was dance teacher himself!!! Just phoning to tell us that he’s been a bit ill and he’d be back teaching us as soon as he could. Playing down his achievements as ever!

Words can’t express my joy that he’s had a reprieve and is on his way back to, maybe not full health, but health.

Unlike my Mum, dance teacher is a healthy and active person so let’s all pray for a full recovery for him and thank God for miracles.

So many tears


And a few light hearted moments to help us along.

Just a few days ago a dear friend  lost her father and yesterday  DIL lost her grandmother after a long and painful illness.

Even when everyone knows the end is near it doesn’t make it any easier when it happens.

All that can be done to help is to be there when you’re wanted and stay away when you’re not, hard as that is.

The phone call that DIL had been dreading came and she and The Rev  made a hasty dash across the country to Leeds  to be there with her Grandma when she passed.

That left the logistical issue of what to do with the children who at school unaware of the drama unfolding around them.

That would be my cue to step in: “I’ll pick them up from school, I’ll feed them, they’ll stay overnight, I’ll get them to school tomorrow. Don’t worry about the dog, I’ll take her as well. Just go.”

Easy enough, feed them, tire them out and get ’em to bed. Sounds like plan.

Of course it being Monday, I had Munki with me just to spice things up a bit.

While we waited for school to finish, Munki and me took the dog for a run on the field. Now what do you wear when the weather is bright, a bit breezy and it’s early enough in the year for there to still be a chill in the air? Everything!

Eclectic fashion Mix

Munki chose an eclectic mix of clothing for the outing, including my scarf.

It’s been a few years since I’ve done the school run. I’d forgotten how frantic it all gets. Trying to play down the drama of the situation, I kept the kids as informed as possible, trying my best not to upset them. Being bright kids though, they worked out the score in seconds.

So that gave me three alternately upset, hyper and mischievious children, as well as a daft dog to feed, clean up after and entertain.

That was the school bit done, so far so good. Next part of the plan: Food.

Pasta and garlic bread, works every time. Some kids got messier than others so I decided a bath might be in order. Munki played happily in the bath.

Clingon No 2 came in, looked a bit wistful for a minute before asking if she could get in too.

Clingon No 3 then came in, looked a bit wistful then asked if she could get in as well. Why not? The more the merrier! Shove up, I’ll get in ( only joking).

In went the kids, in went the bubble bath, on went the jets.

Result: A lorra lorra bubbles

Bath Time
Up to my neck in it!

Munki left about 5.30. And then there were two (and the dog).  Agility class kept Clingon No 2 and the dog amused for an hour or so, Clingon No1 went to Lashes’.  Before we knew it it was bedtime. Thank God!!

That was all good training for this morning. OH MY GOD!!

Did I really used to get three snail pace kids up and ready for school every single day?

The circular conversations; ‘Have you done your teeth? Have you washed properly? No you haven’t go and do it again. Where’s your shoes? Make the sandwiches etc. etc. etc.  My God, never let it be said that being a Mum is an easy life.

And all the while the dog bounded round. “Take me out, take me out, take me out”  I pretty much just wanted to sit in a corner and rock.

For some bizarre reason, Cligon No 1 told me that they leave for school at 8.20 for an 8.45 start. ‘Bloody hell’, I thought, ‘the traffic must be bad in the morning, it’s only a few minutes away.’  “We’d better leave at 8.15 then to be on the safe side.”

Safe side?

We turned up at a deserted school at precisely 8.21. WHAAAAAT?

After a  20 minute stroll through the woods I shoved them through the school gates with a sigh of relief. Can I go back to bed now?  ‘

Still the dog bounded around so it was back into the woods to take her for a proper walk before returning her to her rightful owners who were now back from Leeds, emotionally and physically drained.

I was glad of the walk in the park, it gave me a chance to reflect. The morning was cool and dank and felt like autumn. It suited my mood perfectly. The daffodils looked garish and out of place in the calm, grey stillness of the deserted woods. Too late for the schoolkids, too early for the dog walkers. There was only me, the dog and a few pigeons coo cooing gently in the trees. Perfect.

I wished I’d taken a proper camera with me, it’s always the best way to calm my nerves, taking photos. Still, the phone doesn’t do a bad job. Here are today’s offerings:

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