I am blogging my way through my personal journey with Bladder Cancer. How I experience it, how it affects my family, the highs and the lows. Follow me along the way.
Today is Boxing Day, 5 weeks and one day on from Nat's death. I have been mulling over whether or not to add to her blog, start my own, or just leave it alone. However, there were so many reactions to the "final post" that I recognised that some people may want to know how we have done, so here are definitely final thoughts, in no particular order.
We have had "Nat's Christmas" this year, as a result of it being too close to Christmas to really arrange anything different, and my own lack of energy to change things significantly. I have been reminded this last week that Christmas was very much Nat's thing. She absolutely loved it. The tree had to be decorated just so, and you could see her fidgeting if the kids put a decoration in the wrong place, to be moved later when they weren't looking. There had to be many colours, except for the table which was white and silver, and tinsel on every available surface. I did my best, but in the end there was a lot less tinsel and silver. I always used to cook Christmas dinner anyway, so that wasn't a challenge, but I was more interested in just getting it on the table than making it look nice. One thing that was unusual was that yesterday was the first day since Nat died that I have struggled to get out of bed. Every other day there has been something to do, kids to school or activities, shopping to do, meetings, admin, funeral, Christmas shopping, etc but when it came to it yesterday I just didn't have the strength to get out of bed, despite the kids bouncing off the walls.
The funeral went exactly as Nat had planned. She had wanted it kept simple; a plain white cardboard coffin was decorated with pictures of our life together and drawings the children had done. I went to see Nat on the Saturday at the funeral home. I had originally thought to take the kids, as some people had recommended it although others had not, but was pleased I didn't in the end. It totally freaked me out. I had a panic attack and couldn't stay in the room; the coldness of the room, the iciness of Nat's skin when I gave her a kiss, the absolute certainty she would open her eyes any minute. Not fun. It absolutely poured down on the day, there were so many people at the crematorium I didn't get a chance to speak to, as we made a run for the car, but the wake afterwards was good and I was able to catch up with a few. Sorry if I didn't speak to you, but rain and sobbing children didn't make a good combination. In the spirit of Nat's policy of being open and honest, there was some conflict over the eulogies which has resulted in my being blocked by someone, but I'll leave that there.
The kids have been coping OK, as far as I can tell. The twins have never known a time when their mum wasn't ill or in hospital and seem to have taken this in their stride. They talk about Nat often, in a very matter of fact way; they know she has died, but I'm not sure if they fully understand the finality of that. Little Miss H is fine as long as she has her tablet. Her friends at school made her a scrapbook of supporting comments while she was off and it is beautiful. Even at the best of times I think you would struggle to read it without getting something in your eye. Her teachers and childminders have been brilliant with her. Master H however I think has been taking advantage of my being distracted and has been involved in some low level disruption at school, not doing homework etc. Unfortunately for him his school recently introduced a fairly draconian discipline policy from which there is no hiding place, so we will be working on that in the New Year. Otherwise he is behaving exactly as you would expect a 13 year old boy to...
As for me, 95% of the time I am able to function normally, put a brave face on, all the cliches. The other 5% I am a mass of rage, fear, guilt and grief threatening to spill over at any minute. My counsellor commented that most of my "episodes" seem to take place in the supermarket. It occurred to me later that that is the only public place I really go at the moment, apart from school, and the exposure to familiar things seems to trigger a wave. But it can be anything. A song, a smell, a ball of wool found under the bed, French Fries crisps which she seemed to exist on when I first met her, pictures, driving her car back to the garage. I'm told that it's early days, that I need to be kind to myself, but for me it's nearly three years since Nat started getting the symptoms which we thought was her endometriosis returning. I thought I was grieving before, for what was lost, for our children, for our future together, but this is a whole other level.
My family and friends have been awesome, delivering food, taking the kids off my hands for a few hours, letting me sound off and letting me indulge my self-preservation tactic of inappropriate humour without judgement. And with that I'm going to stop. We're surviving. Nat told our friends to give their numbers to my Mum so she could phone them if she saw me struggling. She also told them all that I'm rubbish at asking for help so to keep offering it, and they have, in spades.
If anyone is interested, I'll put up a link to my eulogy and if I do decide to write a blog I'll also provide a link to that.
Peace and love
Andy, Thank you for this. You have been in my thoughts a lot and I hope that you will share your eulogy when you are ready. As I posted previously you had a great girl and I think that you did the right thing in going to the funeral home without the children.
I can’t seem to find the right words at the moment but keep talking about Nat, to the children to family and with friends, she is not physically here but her spirit and her essence is, we on this blog miss her but as we all know, no one misses her more than you. Lesley x Boofytot
I have just read Nats blogs from start to finish. Taken me most of this evening. An incredible and moving journey for you all and for me to read. You will be okay in the end. I know. My sister in law was diagnosed with cancer when her children were 4 and 5. They lived for 10 years with mummy being ill or in hospital. They are now 2 wonderful young men. Wasn't easy for my brother in law at first but take whatever help that you have. Wishing you all the very best for the new year. X
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