Bristol September 9th

Still reeling from Dad’s prognosis at the end of last week. When Mum first told us and said how little time he had left but there was a chance of treatment I think it gave us all a little hope to cling on to. However flimsy that hope was, it was something. We spent all day Friday trying to get through to a team of 3 specialists at Addenbrookes who we were told had their own conclusions that they would share with us. After several calls to doctors’ PAs in Ipswich who didn’t know, Bro took matters into his own hands and called Addenbrookes direct. They were quick to answer and even quicker with their advice:

‘It can’t be treated. We recommend good care in the community for the time he has left.’

If Mum and Dad’s chat to me in the sitting room the night before hadn’t been too hard a punch to handle – or so I thought – then this was a knockout blow. There was nowhere else to go. Nothing else to do. Nothing else to hope for. I took the call on Thorpeness Beach. How fitting. That beach could be the line I trace my life along. And how different she seemed today from ‘all our yesterdays’ when the sun shone and shone. Here I was on the grey beach in front of the grey sea and sky. Alone. Not a soul here. Everyone and everything packed up and gone. No one to see me cry openly, unreservedly as I grimaced into the wind.

Strange the way we react to these things. I thought about how evolution might have made us into an incredibly creative and intelligent being but we still hadn’t developed a way of coping with something that is a constant. Bereavement. Grief. Or perhaps that’s just it. We should feel confusion and pain and sadness to really appreciate life and love when it’s gone. It’s the ultimate compliment for the person you’ll lose.

I go through varying stages of emotion. It’s always there – a dull reminder in the back of my mind not unlike how the tumour must feel to him. A slight headache. And sometimes a wuzziness or fizzing in the front of his head, so he says. A reminder. Sometimes it’s bearable, manageable my emotion . At others it’s overwhelming. A wave of shock and sadness that rises in the chest and chokes me. A waterboard of grief. How does it feel for him I wonder? I dare not ask. I want to stay strong for him and I know what will hurt him most is seeing us sad. When he told me the news on Thursday it was typical of him to give probably the biggest understatement of his life:

‘It’s a bugger.’

What else do you say when you’ve been told you have a few months left to live?

What’s so weird is that he seems fine apart from that he’s weak. He can talk perfectly normally and we reminisce and laugh and chat like we always used to although he gets tired quicker. Yesterday we talked about The Henham Steam Fair. He said how much he wanted to go but that it had probably been already. I looked it up and it’s in 2 weeks’ time. I didn’t say anything. Let’s see where we are then.

I phoned mum after lunch today to check she was OK because I know she must be suffering as much as he. They were both the same as ever. Bright and breezy. And I must be the same. Dad had been wrapping up his SSAFA cases, getting all the information ready to hand over to someone else and he said he was feeling fine apart from a bit of wuzziness. He said he’d get the battery charged up on the lawnmower ready for me to do the lawn this weekend. Being with them this last weekend was tiring emotionally and, like a coward, I couldn’t wait to get away, to not think about it for just a little amount of time but this weekend I’ll be stronger. And I’ll get used to managing it. Manage my thoughts, which I had got so good at until this. Try to think of it as only thought. Try to think only in the moment, only of the moment. Carpe diem. The rest can wait. This time should really be a celebration. Live it. Immerse ourselves in it for all it’s worth. When dad and I said goodbye I said ‘Lots of love’ and he replied ‘Lots of love, love, love.’



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