Ownedbystaffies 1 year on

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My mum,  , died nearly one year ago, and I'm finding it really hard. Every season change, every essay I submit, every activity she wouldn't have thought it sensible for me to do (like camping in October and delaying my course ending) makes me think of her and realise how much she's missing, and how wrong it feels that she's not here. She only wanted simple things but she didn't get them for long enough. She gave a lot and didn't receive enough.

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 2000s and with chemo, radiotherapy, a mastectomy and tamoxifen, she stayed clear for over ten years. Unfortunately, after some strange symptoms, that we didn't understand, and which her doctor thought was depression - not likely with my old stoic-  in 2017 she was diagnosed with incurable cancer. 

I fell apart at hearing the diagnosis, and at every subsequent scan which showed progression of the cancer. I was crippled by fear and dread and didn't have the space to think enough about her and her feelings. I just knew I couldn't cope without my mum. 

She took everything in her stride though. From chemo to tablets, back to chemo. Unpleasant side effects she dealt with with her usual calmness and lack of fuss.

It was only when her eyes started to water and go fuzzy, making her unable to drive, and when she lost the fat in her face, which made her look lined, thin and older than her years, did she show some vulnerability and distress. It was hard to see and showed me she was more sensitive than she let on. In the end the blurring was cataracts that could have been operated on, and that feels so unfair as her no-fuss self thought it was chemo related and no one bothered to check further. 

She suddenly got ill on the 13th October 2022 and had to wait 7 hours for an ambulance and 2 more before she was admitted to a hospital bed in an understaffed ward seemingly run by one harassed nurse. It all felt a bit Fawlty Towers, except for the awfulness of it all. I visited her every day for hours for the next 3 days, finally seeing she wouldn't return from hospital. I cared for her and tried to show her as much compassion and love as I could. I tried to advocate for her as best I could and discussed moving her to a hospice. But she wanted to keep fighting against death.

She died, with me in her bed next to her, on the 16th October, and I have been missing her horribly ever since. 

Her funeral went nearly exactly as I would have liked. She asked for a cardboard coffin, one flower and for any donations to go to charity. I carried her coffin, alongside my brother, her brother and her best friend. An experience I will never forget nor regret. I took the opportunity to remind people about her love of animals, nature, her job and how she could be silly as well as very politically engaged. I knew I was on dangerous ground with some of the congregation when I reminded them of the important lesson she had taught me... To NEVER, EVER, VOTE TORY. And lots of her friends laughed, as I, and I think she, would have hoped. Everyone wore what they wanted and left, smiling and emotional, to the sound of Fatboy slims "Praise you", as she had requested. 

My mum was imperfect. She was a control freak. She wasn't outwardly emotional. She wasn't as warm as I sometimes wanted. She could be anxious about new places and crowded spaces. But she knew all of my friends' names. She cared about people, about a fairer, kinder world. She thought about the environment and the dogs she rehomed and people who were less fortunate than her. She wasn't scared of angry people. She enjoyed being with her friends, visiting gardens, gentle strolls and putting the world to rights. She was a good egg!

I'm not ready for that one year anniversary to come. I don't want her to have missed a whole winter, spring, summer and autumn. But I do hope she's now peaceful and didn't leave this plain with any big regrets. 

I love you mum and I hope you're in a place with loads of dogs and nice cups of tea. 

  • What a lovely tribute to your mum. Ownedbystaffies was such a huge part of the online community, especially in the incurables group, where she was everyone’s friend. Such a warm, caring and supportive person, whose love for her family and dogs was evident. 

    She did love to put the world to rights, and your comments about the tories made me smile. 

    I think of your mum often. It is hard to believe it is nearly a year since she left us. Sending you lots of hugs to get you through this next week. X 


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