Accepting mum’s fate

People often say to me so what’s next?

Well to put it bluntly there is no next, there is simply surviving.

This can be said for not only my mum but for me too.

I think the subject of finality always makes people uncomfortable, nobody wants to talk about the end – especially when the person is still alive.

I don’t have any answers and neither do the doctors, it is just the way it is and it’s the way it always will be.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve completely banished all hope.

There is going to come a point where my mum won’t want to carry on with chemotherapy anymore…or there might not be?

She might say ‘fuck you cancer’ right to the very end. It’s up to her and no one else.

I can’t change what is happening and neither can mum. So if I can’t change mum’s future then why let her present be miserable?

As mum battles on I’m starting to try and not take conversations about finality so negatively.

Reaction is key in these situations and if your loved one is comfortable discussing this with you then that’s a good thing.

This was the case on a crisp Saturday afternoon.

Chips and a sea view with mum meant she was surrounded by happiness, love and familiarity.

Nothing could be heard but the wind and the rustle of our chip paper but mum suddenly pointed and said “I want to be scattered on little eye” (the island next to Hilbre Island in West Kirby).

She was so matter of fact that I didn’t have time to react.

When you’re in such a beautiful place it’s easy to forget the reality that is in front of you.

So, I joked about how the conversation had abruptly took on a morbid turn, we laughed and she said “well it’s so my ashes can blow back in your face like my dad’s did with us three girls.”

Her sense of humour made it easier and the experience changed into joyful one.

It made me feel comfortable with mum’s wishes, and it suddenly dawned on me that she had accepted what is and would be.

There was a moment of calmness as we looked out towards the sea.

It was then I knew mum was going to be okay. She was here with me, enjoying the moment.

When she is no longer here in the present it is then I’ll look to the sea.

Sadness

  • Sadness is that place we never want to be,
  • Sadness is fear, pain and sorrow
  • Sadness is stillness, empty and circular,
  • Sadness is the corridor
  • Sadness is a memory that pains,
  • Sadness is overwhelming and selfish
  • Sadness doesn’t care,
  • Sadness is the corridor
  • Sadness is dark, cold and blank,
  • Sadness is unwanted and consuming
  • Sadness is the corridor
  • Sadness is the place that welcomes fear,
  • Sadness is the room where they said mum was ill
  • Sadness is when the ‘monster’ said hello.

The Room

I keep replaying it.

That moment when my world fell away beneath my feet.

I gripped my dad’s hand tighter as the room drew near and the hall began to disappear.

One light flickered above and the staff went about their business, gripping their clipboards tightly, always in a hurry.

I was in no hurry.

I focused on the surgeons steps ahead, guiding us to the room.

I tried to ignore the nurse beside him, blocking the thoughts of why she was there.

My palm was sweating more in my dad’s hand now and I realised I hadn’t yet taken a breath.

My brother should be here, (I can’t remember why he wasn’t) this was all happening so fast.

We knew there was a possibility of the monster being inside mum but we were just here to speak about how her surgery went, right?

We entered the room.

The tissues set poised on the table and the leaflets screamed at me in the corner of my eye, as if they already knew what was coming.

The chairs were cold and uncomfortable, much like the surgeon’s expression.

Beside him the nurse smiled and I realised her purpose. The surgeon began and it wasn’t good.

The monster liked mum too much and it wasn’t going anywhere.

In fact it had made its bed in several places inside her body. It claimed the pancreas home and was moving on to the stomach and bowel.

I couldn’t allow it to happen.

The surgeon’s mouth moved but I wasn’t listening anymore, I was thinking of a plan.

Dad squeezed my hand and began asking the surgeon questions.

“There’s not much more we can do other than hope her body will get stronger and she can fight it with chemotherapy.”

“There’s not much more we can do.”

I let go of dad’s hand.

“There’s not much more we can do.”

What’s stage four, terminal?

“There’s not much more we can do.”

Tissues were placed in my hand then.

I sat motionless, feeling the leaflets staring smugly.

They left me and dad alone and then my world fell apart.

I cried until I couldn’t and to this day I can still hear myself screaming “I’m going to lose my mummy.”

My 26-year-old body hidden in the comfort of my dad’s arms.

I didn’t notice the flickering light in the corridor again, no longer smiled at the staff walking past in the hallway.

Mum was waking up from surgery, she needed us.

She didn’t yet know the monster had come to stay and we couldn’t yet tell her.

I held my mum’s hand tightly.

I’ve been holding it ever since.