Some Thanks

There are a number of people who, over the last few weeks, have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help and support us, and this post is simply to say thank you. You know who you are and what you have done or said or messaged that has lifted our spirits or provided tangible assistance.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most gruelling experiences that we’ve had to cope with – and there are elements of it that I just won’t write about right now because they are so raw. There have been, as predicted by a number of people, some upsetting revelations on a couple of fronts and those aren’t helping the general stresses of this sort of situation either, but the voices of support on all sides really are making a huge difference in how Lady M and I are dealing with things.

Thank You.

So, Here We Are

 

wpid-wp-1438900347357.pngWe 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.

Trying Something New

The last few weeks have been a fairly non-stop rollercoaster, both physically and emotionally. Even just factoring my life into things, its been hectic. My grandfather’s death was sudden but peaceful – he’d just reached the end of his journey – but the four days of his decline were made worse by the sheer distance between where we lived, and I wasn’t able to say a final goodbye. At the same time, the library restructure has been rumbling along during one of our busiest times of year. I’d contend that either of these stresses would be manageable although difficult on their own. Together, well then things start to creak.

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While the funeral arrangements were being made, we were on holiday. Although Disneyland Paris was an amazing place and we had a great time, the relative stress of engaging multiple languages and generally being around many, many people with different ideas of what constitutes personal space was very draining. At least the train journeys were relatively calm and easy, except where TFL were involved.

And then we have last week. We drove up to Blackpool for the funeral to keep some flexibility of movement, and straight into the water contamination problems they’re still experiencing in the area. The funeral and aftermath were as emotionally charged as you might expect – though fortunately my family are genial drunks when they get together, so other than rambling stories and the occasional bout of falling over things were pleasant enough. You know: for a funeral.

We drove back gently enough, stopping in on the way to visit our favourite Pixie at PhoenixxRising. That was a lovely moment of calm, despite the Blackburn roadworks, and much needed. Once we were home, there was a quick turnaround, a brief morning of getting the Charleesi’s exam results (even though we knew she’d do well, there was still the stress of waiting for them), and we were back on the road.

Now, while there weren’t any water restrictions in Hartlepool, we did find pretty much every roadwork between there and London. Exhaustion was already beckoning. I was the sole usher at the church (the other usher having been promoted to Best Man at the last moment, for reasons that were never explained and from the unspoken grumblings I’m probably better off not knowing). Lady M was chief bridesmaid, and walked her sister down the aisle so that her father (who has mobility issues following a major road traffic incident a few years back) could be involved at the front without risking a fall.

Lady M’s sister has Type 2 Neurofibromitosis, and has also recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The two conditions are interacting with each other aggressively, so she has recently had to start using a walking stick as well. The church made plenty of adaptations (chairs, getting the bride and groom to sit as much as possible during the service) so this wasn’t a huge problem in terms of the flow of the day, but it was still hard for Lady M to see her sister, and by extension it was upsetting for me too. We made the absolute best of it, and steered my parents through some cultural aspects as we went “No mother, don’t start calling everyone ‘pet'”.

We found all the roadworks and the rain on the way back South the next morning. We got home and things started to fall apart. We both suffer, to greater or lesser degrees, from mood swings as part of our respective condition, as does Lady P – and normally one or more of us is in a reasonably good place when someone else is down, and so is able to support, cajole or otherwise kick the appropriate person up the rear end when they’re on a low mood swing. This week, between travel, exhaustion, grief, work and everything else, we all hit a low point at the same time.

So, we’re all retreating a bit, and trying to look out for each other while also fighting our demons and getting our heads straight, oh and getting back to work too. I’ve likened the experience to running along a building, turning a corner and going smack bang into scaffolding. It has hurt, but we’re picking our way through to get back on our feet.

And now it’s payday, I can afford a couple of treats, and I’ve just replaced Lady M’s Hudl with a Hudl2. My gift to myself has been a Bluetooth keyboard and case for my own tablet – and I’ve just written this blog on it. It seems to be working perfectly, which is nice. A new month beckons, with new prospects, options, and hope. What’s the worst that could happen?