Me, My mum and Cancer: 10 years today
10 years today. Been up since 4 this morning. First, I wrote a letter to my mum. It always starts like that. Same since the first year. Week before, emotions all over the place but usually a lot of anger. I try and not feel angry but that’s what comes out. The day before I feel unwell. Hot. Clammy. Like I am coming down with something. I tell myself all week that the 16th of may is just another day. I say thing to myself like “Oh I bet I don’t even notice what day it is”. But my heart is counting down the days, hours minutes… Calculating the time that I have not seen my mum. Mumma. Mumsie. Old dear. I called her all these things. A long time ago. It’s been 10 years today you have been gone. 10 years since I said the word “Mum” and someone answered me. Mum. Just typing them 3 letters has started the tears I have held in all week. I’m tired Mum. I’m tired of missing you, of being strong. I am tired of pretending that I don’t miss you with every inch of my soul.
Then, on the 16th, like clockwork I am up about 4. I wake up and just lay there. Its like I am getting ready for the worst day off my life…again.
Then I sit in the living room. And I start my letter. I write “Dear mum” and get very emotional. I even got upset just typing that. Silly. So, I start writing how much I miss her and love her, and I cry, A lot. But secretly because I don’t want the kids to see me upset. Then usually I go off about my day dreading 4:15. The time she died. Its like I just get through the day, wait for that time, and then pretend it didn’t happen. But it did happen. My mum died.
So, this year I am going to say what happened. And maybe no one will read it. Who knows. I just need to say it.
On the 4th of May 2008 life was normal. Normalish. Mum had been feeling unwell and had been on the sofa for days. She said she ached all over. I had taken her to the doctors so many times the month before. Almost twice a week because she cried with this ache in her bones. The doctor sent her to the hospital once for her arthritis, but nothing was wrong.
On the 4th, she wouldn’t stop crying. I had tried everything. Creams, hot water bottle, tablets. Then she said she couldn’t get up for the toilet. My mum was a very private lady and I knew that she must be unwell to say this. So, I called an ambulance. I stayed with the boys as they were still little, and I called the hospital throughout the night. The next morning, the 5th, the hospital called and said that she was having scans and tests, and could I come at 10. I took My oldest son and my then boss to the hospital. I was told that they could not find anything major wrong. I saw mum and went home to finish decorating the boys room, told mum I would be back at 6.
I got in, started painting. Phone went again. The hospital said something had been found and that I must come now. It all went a bit blurry at this point, but I called my boss to drive me to the hospital (I don’t drive). I didn’t get changed, I was in my old clothes covered in paint. Funny isn’t, how you remember things like that.
So, me, my boss and my 11-year-old son are all sitting outside this office. I am making ideal chit chat. Saying that my mum needs to come home soon because I can’t leave the dog all day (I lived with my mum. Me, my mum and my boys). My boss is not speaking. She knew. I knew.
A nurse comes and calls us into a room. It’s a nice room. Not like ones I had been in before. It was all nice with big chairs. A man is sitting behind the desk in the room. A lady, a nurse I guess is standing next to him. The nurse that called us in sits on one of the chairs facing the doctor. Like she is one of us. I sit down and make a joke. I can’t tell you what. No one smiles. They say that my son should wait outside. I don’t speak. He is lead out.
The silence is what done it for me. Him, the doctor, just looking at me then at his hands. I’m not worried. Nope. The nurse who is sitting with us says that I may need tea. I say I don’t drink tea thanks. My boss says she has something stronger in her bag and the nurse nods. They know. They are all getting on my nerves.
The doctor says he has some bad news. Now, in my head I am just nodding saying please go on. Then I feel the nurse put something in my hand. I look down, it’s a tissue. I look at her, but she is all blurry. I don’t know why. I can hear her though. She says, “Don’t cry”. I’m not F~&*King crying I scream in my head. But the words don’t come out. Because I realise that I am sobbing. Big tears are rolling down my face. My expression has not changed. My other hand is gripping this seat for dear life. The tears fall, and my eyes are not blurry. I remember thinking…how can I not know I am crying.
The doctor starts talking. I’m sorry he says. Its Cancer. I find my voice but its very tiny. And I say, simply “No” not a big scream…a big NOOOOOOOO. Just “No” as in no thanks. He says that I must listen, and I say “No”. the nurse behind him walks round the desk and bends down in front of me and says “Do you have any siblings” I shake my head. “Do you have a Dad” I shake again. Big fat hot tears burning my face. I want to hit her. I want to hit this stupid nurse in her stupid head. She looks at my boss and says, “What family is there”. I can’t see or hear Sharon Dixon, my boss but the nurse looks back at me and simply shakes her head sadly and sits next to me. I see her name tag “Carol”. I hate you Carol. No reason. But hate you I do.
The doctor says that they have done scans and they have found Cancer. I say that my mum is scared of needles, so I am not sure if she will do Chemo. He looks at me and shakes his head. Wait…is Carol holding my hand. I let her. She feels strong. I need strong right now.
He says that they found several different Cancers. He uses the word “Riddled”. Or is that the nurse speaking. I don’t know. He says that the worse part is her lungs. There is an 80% mass. I have no idea what he means.
I say that I will have to talk to my mum about what she wants to do because she doesn’t like needles. I’m really crying now. I have never cried like that before or since. The nurse asks where mum lives. I say with me. We have always lived together. I ask why it matters where she lives. Carol tightens her grip on my hand…calm down Carol or me and you are gonna fall out. She is now talking, Carol. I can’t hear here but see she has kind eyes. Blue. She looks like a nan. I didn’t have a nan but she looks like a nan. Wait, why is she holding me. My brain has no idea what is going on but this woman is hugging me for dear life. So tight. No…wait…its me holding her. And I kid you not I suddenly realise that I am screaming. Just typing that ….wow…the tears are here.
Carol says did I hear. I say I don’t know. He moth is moving but I can’t…don’t…
“Your mum won’t be coming home”. Until when I ask. Because I don’t know how to work the cooker properly I tell Carol. Mum has to show me so many times and I can never get it right for the casserole. Carol, I say, how long until my mum can come home. Now her kind eyes are crying. Should a nurse be crying!
She says that my mum won’t be coming home again. That she is very sick and sadly she can’t come home. I just look at her. The doctor says he is going to tell my mum. I say no you are not. I will tell her. Carol says no, I must wait here, and the doctor will take me down to her when its time.
I stand up and make it very clear that I will be leaving now. The doctor seems in a hurry. Getting all his stuff. Telling my boss to sit me down.
In a hurry somewhere, mate…Bet I get there first. And then I am running. My son says I ran past him and my face was so blotched and red from crying it scared him. I run to my mum’s ward. Poos doctor is rushing behind me…but I have had to outrun people my whole life..i was always going to win. My mum’s curtains for her bed are pulled round. I fall through them. She looks at me. She looks straight at me. The doctor comes flying through just after me. He starts to speak (He is not happy with me I can tell you that). He starts to speak and my mum waves her hand at him to hush him. She looks so little. She says to him “I need to speak to my daughter” he says he has some bad news and she says she knows and can he please leave. And he does.
Now its just me and my mum. My mumsie. She pats the bed and I sit. She lifts her hand, its so weak and she wipes my face. I am just crying and crying. She says shhhhh….stop….speak to me. I say they said you can’t come home. I say it like a kid telling on someone “They said you can’t come home”. I spit it out so angry. She says she is coming home. Yer…that’s right Carol…my mum is coming home.
She says, “How long”. Now I had clearly heard the doctor and nurse say this over and over. But not once did I respond. I wipe my nose. I take her little hand. I tell her. Weeks. Maybe days. She starts crying..NO NO NO. don’t cry mum. I will fix it. I will do something. But we just cry.
There is a whole story about her coming home but that’s not important. Not today. But they gave me 24 hours to make the flat we lived in adaptable for all the stuff she needed to come home and I sorted it. Of course, I did. And my mum came home on the 15th of May.
My mum died whilst I lay next to her in bed on the 16th of May. It was 4:15. It was sunny. 12 days before she had been in the living room eating soup, saying she was in pain and watching the football with me.
Because that’s what Cancer does. Sometimes. Just takes them. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes you can say goodbye and make plans. And sometimes Cancer just comes and takes your mum with no warning.
Wow, do I miss her. I know many people feel like this but I just need 5 minutes with her. Just 5 minutes. Just to show her my daughter and what the boys have done. That’s all.
Well, If you have got this far then thank you. Thank you for taking the times to read….a lot lol. Maybe no one will read it. I don’t matter because it made me feel better. Made me feel like I am telling fresh ears.
Now off to work, because my mum would always say “Kendra, you’re a fighter, get up and bloody fight”. I am mum, I am.