I had a text first thing this morning to let me know that my uncle died about 1am and so today has come and gone in a bit of a numb haze. I only heard on Sunday that he was unwell so it’s been a rapid set of mental adjustments to take it all in.
So that’s been my day. I’m still a bit out of it but I’ll go back to work tomorrow and get on with things as a distraction
We knew it wouldn’t be long, even as we hoped for the best. The summons back North came at lunchtime on Tuesday, with the news that the doctors needed to talk to us. Both our places of work have been exceptional in their support, freeing us to go when we needed, and Tuesday was no different.
Without stopping, the journey between Sunbury and North Tees takes about four and a half hours. With roadworks and one brief stop for caffeine, it took us five hours. I didn’t play any of the music we normally have on. Instead, we drove in silence – nothing else felt appropriate or soothing – and got to the hospital at around seven thirty.
The doctor who had been in charge of Lady M’s father’s treatment explained the situation quietly and seriously, and guided us through the dance. We all already knew why we were there: that Eddie had reached the end of his journey and all that remained was to say goodbye while they kept him comfortable. We didn’t feel able to stay to the very end, and took our leave.
Nature took it’s course.
If I was writing a story I’d end it on that sentence but life and death, as I’m learning, are never so simply wrapped up. This is the first family death that I’ve had to take an active role in organising. Sadly, it isn’t Lady M’s first rodeo. The intricacies of hospital paperwork, the notifications of appropriate authorities, and the quiet language of the funeral directors have engulfed our day. Tomorrow sees the start of clearing and cleaning a suddenly empty house.
There are certain friends with whom I am having new conversations that I am only now equipped to appreciate – in much the same way that the parents of newborn children suddenly find new connection with other parents. This new layer of connectivity with friends is both shocking and reassuring in that it confirms certain universal reactions and experiences, but it also raises the spectre of what it will be like, in the future, when I must do this for my own parents.
Neither Lady M or I are sleeping much right now.
Its been a fairly fraught week with sad news from t’other half’s side of the family as her uncle died in the early hours of sunday morning. He’d been in hospital on palliative care following a major heart attack the previous week so in one respect we had a little time to mentally get used to the idea but there’s still that nasty little shock when the news comes.
So, a quietish household at the moment.
On a more positive note, the charity I work for – Surrey Drug and Alcohol Care – has just been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. I’ve reproduced the Press Release below:
GUILDFORD, June 2, 2011 – Guildford based charity, Surrey Drug and Alcohol Care (SDAC) has been awarded the prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service. This award, inaugurated in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee year, is made annually to groups who have given “outstanding voluntary work in the community”. SDAC provides a confidential 24/7/ 365 day telephone support-line for anyone concerned about issues relating to substance abuse.
Mike Sproule, acting Chairman commented: “this unique National Honour is a tribute to the 50-60 volunteers at SDAC who tirelessly donate their time, energy and compassion to meeting the needs of anyone, including users, families, friends and carers, suffering from drug and alcohol dependency in Surrey. In our 25th year of service to the community, the importance and value of SDAC has never been greater. I hope this award will encourage more people to work with us: the more volunteers we have, the more support we can give back to those in need in our community.”
The helpline operates 24 hours a day, offering advice, support and referral into treatment services, for Surrey residents. Families, friends and carers of those involved in alcohol or drug dependency are also given the same support. It is manned at any one time by the 50-60 volunteers who give up their time to help anyone concerned by drug and alcohol use. In 2010, SDAC took over 2,500 calls to the helpline, and alcohol dependency in Surrey forms the largest share of calls to the line.
Anyone who is concerned about drug and alcohol can call the 24 hour helpline on 01483 300112.
For more information on the Queen’s Award, there’s an informative link here
Oh, and on a slightly more selfish note, I’ve decided to start putting myself forward into various short story competitions. Today’s stab in the dark went to the Flash Fiction Competition 2011 – go on, have a go (no, I’m not affiliated in any way with them – I just figure at 250 words and only a couple of quid to shuffle into, what’s to lose?)