Monthly Archives: March 2015

Church service details


Tuesday 31st March

We have a 10:15 appointment with the Father who will be leading the funeral service for our son, one week today.

He is wonderful and puts us at our ease, but it is still such a heartbreaking time. We tell a bit of our son’s life story, and his valiant battle against the cancer that ultimately took his life. We discuss the readings, prayers and eulogy. We just want everything to be perfect. In between tears we recount tales of adventure, mischief and happiness. The Father listens intently, offering suggestions and advice to the Order of Service.

We leave, only to move onto the undertaker’s, to deliver our chosen photographs of our son, to be used in the Order of Service. It really was an emotional morning.

In the afternoon we go out in the car, to have two very large posters printed and laminated, of our darling son. These will be placed either side of his coffin in the church. One shows him laughing, having just come out of the water in Aquatica, last year. The second is a pensive one of him reading, with a beautiful blue sky background. He always had a book in his hand. The photographs look amazing, but again bring us to tears.

Having almost reached home, our younger son phones, and asks us to come down to his place for tea; we didn’t see him yesterday, and he wanted to know that we were all right.

We stay for a couple of hours, then begin our walk home. Our town is quite unique in that it places funeral notices in various shop windows, informing friends and the townsfolk of the date and time of the funeral. And of course, as we pass the flower shop, there is the notice for our son.

We walk silently in tears, holding hands, all the way home. We never, ever imagined to see one of those notices for a child of ours

It really felt like an arrow piercing through our hearts.

Clothing for a send-off


Monday 30th March

Well, writing out the list yesterday was far easier than putting it into practice this morning. Gathering together the clothes for our son to wear in the coffin was desperately painful. Another sad and sobbing start to the day.

The black velvet jacket, white t-shirt from Spain, black trousers, underwear, socks and woolly hat to keep his hairless head warm. A pair of black leather shoes that my husband would always polish for him.

Then the toys and books: Dot and the Kangaroo, He Man and She Ra’s Secret of the Sword, and Two Brothers Go Fishing. The Ritz teddy bear and cuddly dolphin, too. I looked everywhere for his St Christopher, but couldn’t find it. However upon opening a drawer, right on the top was a sparkly green star-shaped badge with the name “Frankie”. He had worn this whilst visiting Lourdes. I pinned it to his velvet jacket. His tablet wasn’t quite fully charged, so we will bring that to him tomorrow.

A strange assortment of items to take to heaven, but in his own little Asperger’s world, they mean such a lot.

We took these things down to the undertaker, but will not be able to see our son until tomorrow. It was a painful handing over, knowing what they were for, but we want our son to look his best.

Our next stop was the florist to talk about the white pillow to hold He Man’s sword, and then a simple double spray of yellow sunflowers to sit atop the coffin. Again, very difficult to speak about. We want the very best, but it’s hard when you’re feeling so very emotional and hurting like mad.

We don’t want to go home just yet, so we walk around the town, which is filling up with Easter holidaymakers. Even when we do arrive home, we go out again almost straight away; to my sister’s for a cup of tea. We seem to be avoiding our home at the moment.

Our evening was spent trying to put together a fitting Order of Service. Trying to choose five of the best photographs proved hard. Over the last thirty years we must have taken thousands, if not tens of thousands of our son. But we did eventually settle upon what we think is a lovely tribute to him.

On a horse, with a dolphin, two happy smiling faces, and one gentle picture inside a heart.

That is where he will forever be now. In our hearts forever.

Morning Mourning


Sunday 29th March

It’s been sixteen days, twenty one and a half hours since you fell asleep and gained your Angel wings. And I cannot tell you how much I miss you and love you so, so much. I think about you every waking moment.

Every single morning a huge wave of sadness envelopes us. This has turned into the norm. And I don’t like it one bit.

We wake. We cry. We try. We ask why. The motivation to get going is just not there. Our family is broken. Our home is silent and still.

It takes a huge effort to leave the house this morning, and even as we do, I’m sobbing before we reach the end of the road. I don’t think I’ll ever accept that you’re never coming back. But I want to hold onto the good memories, I need to tell myself you have no more suffering, and I need to believe you truly are an Angel. Your soul is still with us. You will remain in my heart forever.

Spending the afternoon with our younger son and his girlfriend, yet again, is what we do, and it feels so comforting and just right. Copious cups of tea, and a lovely chicken curry are placed before us. We talk, we go out for a walk, we watch some television.

As we are leaving we have to ask him something. We want to know if there’s anything he would particularly like to be placed with his brother in the coffin. Such an awful question to have to put to him, but we need to know his wishes. He says there is a book in my mum’s attic that my father had made for them. A little book about two brothers who go fishing. It is personalised with their names.

So, having left our son’s flat, we go home via my mum’s, and find this particular book. And that then has my husband and I hugging and sobbing in each other’s arms. Such a touching thing to think of. I had completely forgotten about this book. Made for the boys in 2001, whilst we were in Australia.

We finally make it back to our own quiet house. Now I really must think of the clothes we want our son to be dressed in. You see, he’s off for afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel in London, and he needs to look ‘posh and sophisticated’. The black velvet jacket he pestered me to buy will serve it’s purpose very well. And the white t-shirt his brother brought back from Spain; still in its packet. He will also need the Ritz teddy bear my sister bought for his thirtieth birthday. And a turquoise and white dolphin. His tablet, full of downloaded songs and television programmes. A silver St Christopher we gave to him on his eighteenth as well. All things he will need to travel safely and free from pain.

Tomorrow when we wake, we will have much more of a purpose. We’re coming to visit you, our Angel son. To sit with you. To talk to you. To tell you we love you. To the moon and back. And all the world. Forevermore.

Rearrangement of the arrangements


Saturday 28th March

Today we drive over to see my mum in the care home. She is looking well, having just had her hair done the day before. She is still most confused about when my brother will be arriving from America. We have tea and cakes, talk about our son, and have tears and memories to share. She is so desperately upset. Our younger son is with us, and I think all this sadness is really hard for him to cope with.

Having thought we’d made all the necessary arrangements by choosing the date of our son’s funeral, a spanner appeared in the works. Well, a whole tool box seemed to have been chucked at us.

My brother, the one in America, whom I wanted to speak at the service, is now unable to attend the funeral on Wednesday. Despite trying all kinds of combinations of transport, timings, and transfers, it just wasn’t going to work for him. He had booked to return to New York by Thursday morning, so no way was that going to happen, even if he left the church at midday, broke the speed limit, to catch a flight at eight from London. Far too many risks and what-ifs could confound the journey.

So, what to do? What to do?

I wondered, if at all possible, would we be able to move the date forward?

Only way to find out is to ask. So, upon phoning the undertaker, to explain the awkward situation, he was most understanding, and said “Leave it with me, that’s what I’m here for”.

About an hour later he phoned back, having spoken to the church Father, who would be leading the service. Absolutely no problem. Change the date to Tuesday 7th April, at 11:30am. The only slight problem would be the county council, who couldn’t be contacted until Monday, with regard to the interment. But he said he was most hopeful, greater than a 90% chance, that all would be ok.

A happy-ish end to the day. So to speak.

Melancholy Moments and a Surreal Sign


Friday 27th March

I am trying so hard to be strong. To find a way forward, thinking of all the positive times, the laughs, jokes and smiles, the happy adventures and fun we had.

But our son is no longer with us to share these experiences any more. Testicular cancer has claimed his wonderful life. My husbands’ emotions go from utter despair to complete anger. I am just sad and feel helpless.

I phone the registrar’s office this morning, trying to keep my voice in check, but it eventually falters, and I end up in tears again. Talking over the phone, trying to be factual and unemotional when registering the death of your son is awful. A horrible thing to have to do. We make an appointment for next Wednesday. Why do these things take so long organise? We have to endure yet more waiting.

Not long after putting the phone down, it rings again. This time it’s the funeral director just checking we’re doing ok, to tell us that he is on the end of the phone day or night, and gently remind us to think about the clothes in which we want our son dressed. I do need to do this, as I so much want to visit him in the Chapel of Rest.

In the afternoon we take our younger son shopping for a suitable suit to wear at the funeral. As he is trying on various jackets and trousers, our GP phones me to discuss what he has been able to find out. Apparently our son suffered catastrophic cardiac arrhythmia. This was probably brought on by a gastric bleed, as three pints of blood were found in his stomach. But what is so confusing is that there was no indication of anything amiss. But the doctor did say that it would have been a peaceful, instantaneous death. As the covers on the bed were tucked around him gently, with no indication of thrashing about, he wouldn’t have known any pain. Of that, there is some comfort. Although he says it is just conjecture, the combination of the chemotherapy and steroids probably led to this dreadful outcome.

Having completed our shopping we walk over to a bookstore that has a coffee shop upstairs. We sit over in a far corner, beside a big window, overlooking the street below. Suddenly a pigeon flew in. It had come in through the front door, up the stairs, and made straight for us. It banged on to the window pane and then settled for a moment on my husband’s shoulder. There was no great flapping of wings or noise. It then flew between us, under the table and landed on the floor. Two men came along to rescue it, and one of them knelt down and gently scooped it up in his hands. No fuss, no drama. It was as if our elder son had come along, and wanted a coffee with us. So surreal, yet another sign that he is still around us, close by, watching over all that we do.

The evening sees us again with our younger son, being fed and served many cups of tea.

Really don’t know what we’d do without him and his girlfriend right now. They give us so much reason to get out, have some fresh air, walk and discuss things that we might otherwise just keep to ourselves.

Funeral arrangements


Thursday 26th March

I really don’t like the mornings at the moment. I take ages to try and face the day. What else will be thrown at us? What will we have to deal with today? How many times will I cry?

It is so hard to shake off these feelings of sorrow and pain. I miss everything about my son. We go for a coffee, not at our usual place, but I’m sitting there, thinking, he should be in that third chair, next to my husband. I try to hide myself from anyone who might recognise me. I can’t face any sort of conversation when I’m feeling like this.

And then we visit the surgery on the way home, and one of the pharmacists gives me a hug, and tells me what an amazing young man our son was, and that she remembers him from years ago. Tears.

We’ve been delaying our return home, as we have arranged an appointment with the undertaker from the funeral director’s.

He stays for over an hour. It is a real struggle to get through. We have to discuss hymns, music, order of service, cars, flowers, the coffin, grave, announcements. It’s all too much. But he carries out the meeting with a dignity and kindness that we need and appreciate.

He also asks us to gather together some clothes for our son to be dressed in. And any other items that we want to go in the coffin. Tears.

I want to see my son, one last time in the Chapel of Rest. This is allowed. More tears.

Tomorrow we must make an appointment to register our son’s passing with the Registrar’s Office. This probably won’t get done until next week. Then it’s Easter weekend. So the date set for the funeral will be Wednesday 8th April at 11am.

Such a long, long time to wait.

As soon as the undertaker leaves the house we both break down. Again.

Our son, our darling boy. This just shouldn’t be happening.

We have a bite to eat, then we go down to our younger son’s place. We had to get out of our house, even for a little while. It is good to talk with him, and we discuss music to be played and perhaps words to be spoken. Another emotional time. But we are supporting one another.

It is a clear evening as we walk home, and I wonder which star belongs to my son, looking down upon us.

A new layer of bafflement


Wednesday 25th March

Today has been up and down. A real mix of emotions.

This morning began fairly well and upbeat. We decide to take part in this year’s memorial Mount Snowdon trek for those affected by Testicular Cancer. We plan to do this in honour of our beloved son. Contacting the chap who runs the charity, he immediately goes ahead and books a hotel for us, for two nights, so that we can join the group. The generosity shown to us is awesome.

In the afternoon we are just about to go out and meet up with my younger son when the phone rings.

It is the Coroner’s Office.

The report is back from the autopsy.

“Upper gastro intestinal haemorrhage.”

A gastric ulcer.

Metastatic testicular tumour.

I don’t know why, but I find this so, so upsetting.

A few moments after putting the phone down, it rings again.

It is the Funeral Director. He has also had a call from the coroner.

Now that the autopsy is complete, there is no need for an inquest.

So we can now move ahead with our plans for our son.

The funeral director will visit tomorrow afternoon.

Then I break down. I cannot stop sobbing. Our beautiful, caring, loving son.

Could the outcome have been avoided?

Why wasn’t it picked up?

Our son had never complained of tummy pains.

Should this have shown up on the last scans?

His bloods were checked so regularly.

Upon speaking further with our wonderful GP, he was absolutely dumbfounded.

He just couldn’t believe the result from the post mortem.

He said “It throws up a new layer of bafflement”

He asked about the day, then the evening when I found my son.

There was nothing untoward. No indications of the impending tragedy.

When I went to give him his night time medication, there was a little blood on the sheet and pillow, when I pulled my son over, realising that he wasn’t responding.

There was no blood when I gave him mouth to mouth to try and resuscitate him.

The GP is going to talk to the Coroner’s Office, the doctor who carried out the autopsy, and also the oncologist who was treating our son, tomorrow.

Was it the cytotoxic chemotherapy that damaged his intestinal tract?

A build up of poisons that just overwhelmed his body?

It just seems so unreal. So strange.

Having spent all afternoon and evening with our younger son and girlfriend, we walk home in the dark and rain.

Deflated. Bereft. Left with yet more questions. Why? Just why?

And then we find a card has been left at the back door: there has been a delivery of flowers and they have been left in the shed.

The bouquet is truly wonderful. A huge display of colourful stems.

Having opened the card I read that it has been sent from the charity I am supporting on behalf of my son.


What lovely kindness and generosity they have shown. So, so thoughtful.

We are in limbo


Tuesday 24th March

And still the waiting continues. The coroner’s report. It’s been twelve long days without you here. We’re missing your voice, the noises around the house, your music, television programmes, books on the floor. Every single thing about you. Now they’re just memories.

It is all so still, like a desolate no-man’s-land. The waiting. For what? A phone call, a letter, a reason, an explanation. Where did it all go so wrong? You fought so hard to beat this disease.

We had so much planned when the chemotherapy was over. Building up your strength and health so you could start enjoying the fun things of life again.

But now all that we are planning is a funeral; the hymns, prayers, poems, flowers…. But, we do not have a date. And that is so desperately sad.

Our son. Our Angel. Taken much too soon.

We miss you more than words can say xxx

A blur of days


This week just seems to have rushed by in a blur. And yet, we feel as if we are wading through treacle. It is so, so difficult to face each day.

Our lives are empty. I still keep seeing my son’s face as I turned him over, when I found him lifeless in our bed. I will never forget that image of him.

And yet our younger son and his girlfriend have been of great comfort and superb company; they have organised days out, fed us, and provided endless cups of tea. I don’t know what we would have done without them.

Monday 16 March

The back door bell rings early, and it is one of our neighbours. He wants to express his condolences for the loss of our son. Before he leaves, he asks our permission to say a little prayer. We have not been particularly religious people, but we find so much comfort in his words as we all hold hands

We then go to the funeral director’s with my younger son and his girlfriend, first thing in the morning.

It is really hard for us all.

Our next visit is to the local paper to ask advice about an obituary announcement.

We then go to younger son’s place to have a cup of tea.

And again his girlfriend cooks us lunch.

This time a potato frittata and salad.

We stay there for the rest of the afternoon.

Talking, reflecting, holding one another.

We then visit with my sister and her daughter.

More tea and tears.

Tuesday 17 March

Our son made us go out again today, and we had a good time altogether walking down to Loe Bar, then driving back to Porthleven for some lunch, a long walk around to the pier, then afternoon tea.

We got in just before six. He doesn’t want us in our house, alone. He says it is better to get out, and have some fresh air. He is right.

I don’t know, but first thing in the morning, sadness really sets in.

My husband answered the door this morning and it was a guy from Costa Coffee with our normal order of two cappuccinos, a biscotti each, and a card. Plus a beautiful bouquet from the Methodist Church. This was unbelievably thoughtful and kind. And so made us cry. Again.

A guy from the Checkemlads group is running the Southampton half marathon next month and wanted to know if he could put our son’s name on his t-shirt, on his roll of honour. Remembering those lost to this awful disease. So touching that people care so much.

When we arrive home, our neighbours bring round a huge bouquet of white star lilies. From my cousin in Canada.

Our lounge has so many flowers. The perfume is wonderful.

I tried to phone my mum today just after seven, but she had gone to her room, to bed. Apparently she is being comforted and supported by staff and residents. Which is great.

We will go tomorrow.

Wednesday 18 March

We walk down to the local paper’s offices, to make sure they have the obituary announcement, with a beautiful, happy photo of our son.

We next call in at the florist. It is so hard to talk about our wishes for our son’s coffin. But we just want the very best for him.

We drive out to Lamorna to see my mum, and understandably she is most upset and confused. We stay for an hour, talking and hugging. Becoming tired, she decides she needs to go to her room to rest. These events are really knocking her for six.

Leaving the care home, we drive to the Minack Theatre. We park and walk the coastal path to Porth Chapel, meeting up with son and girlfriend.

It is a glorious day, beautiful scenery, blue sky, watching the swell of the sea crashing on to the beach.

A seal swims and dives, probably scaring away the fish that our son wanted to catch.

Continuing round to Sennen we stop and have a bite to eat.

And then it hits us hard when we come home to an empty house.


I begin to look through the thousands of photographs we have of our elder son. I need to gather a selection together for after the funeral.

I cry as I see his face in the many, many places we all visited around the world.

I also order a He Man sword for his coffin pillow.

He was our little He-Man. “I have the power!”

Thursday 19 March

At 8am the coroner’s office ring. Another bad, bad way to start the morning.

Tissue samples from our son’s brain and lungs will be sent away for analysis. Apparently they are small, only the size of a fingernail. It will take between five and seven days for the results to return.

We just seem to be in limbo.

The doorbell rings at 9:45am, I am still in bed. I wash, and get dressed super quick.

It is a friend of ours who has come round and just wants to pay her respects.

She also has a disabled son, and knows how difficult life can get, bringing up a child with such challenging behaviour.

She is unbelievably lovely and says some wonderful things to us.

We were her inspiration.

As a family we never gave up.

We gave our son so much love and care, and fought so hard for his education.

She looked up to us.

Later on we go to see our younger son for tea and sandwiches, and then we all walk out to Porthminster Beach and beyond. It is peaceful, we see many robins, sparrows and spring flowers.

The season is changing, bringing warmth and sunshine.

We retrace our steps, and stop for coffee in a hotel overlooking the ocean. Watching the waves breaking on the rocks below, and two fishing boats that are making their way into the harbour.

Life goes on for everyone and everything around us.

But inside we are torn apart. Tears come easily. Memories are triggered by the slightest thing.

We feel so raw.

Friday 20th March

Today is a partial solar eclipse, and we head down to our son’s for 8:20am to have coffee.

We wait outside for the event, and watch as the moon slowly passes in front of the sun. It didn’t go as dark as I was expecting, but was quite interesting to see.

We then have more coffee and hot cross buns.

We seem to spend endless amounts of time drinking tea and coffee.

On the way home we stop at the Parish church. It is where we were married, and where the boys were both christened.

We light a candle for our darling son.

As my husband lit his, the sleeve of his coat caught in the flame of another candle.

Our son would have thought that highly amusing.

We all go shopping, but not to our usual supermarket. I just can’t face going in there at the moment. Our son was so well known with everyone.

Then yet more tea back at younger son’s place, and finally home to a too quiet house.

The obituary is on the back page of the local paper, along with a beautiful photograph.

Missing him like crazy.

We all are.

Tears are shed again today.

Mothering Sunday


Sunday 15th March

Mothering Sunday.

What a wonderful day this should have been.

A family lunch out had been organised.

The celebration of being a mother of two children.

But it is not to be.

My elder son is in heaven. Flying free with the angels.

I look at the card and flowers he had sent to me.

I feel so much pain and sorrow.

This just shouldn’t have happened.

Not now. Not ever.

More sympathy cards are posted through the letterbox, and people leave flowers as a gesture of sympathy.

Their words are so touching and from the heart.

Our son meant so much to so many people.

My younger son calls later on in the morning, and wants us with him.

His girlfriend cooks us lunch, at his flat.

We hug and kiss, so many times.

Now more than ever, we need one another.

The hurt is still there, but I must try to be strong.

We spend the afternoon sometimes talking, sometimes in silence, reflecting.

My son gives me a lovely bouquet of pink and white gerberas and chrysanthemums.

When we get home, I place them next to the flowers sent by my elder son.

I light a candle.

The house is quiet now.

I want to hold onto the memories I have of our son.

I begin to put down in words part of his life story. I then decide I want to raise awareness of this awful disease, testicular cancer, and ask for donations to a charity called

I feel I need to do this. In his honour

We loved him, cared for him, fought for him, looked out for him. We tried to make his life as happy, fulfilled and exciting as we could.

It’s the least I can do for him.