Monthly Archives: May 2015

The five stages of grief

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Sunday 31st May

Apparently there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They don’t occur on some linear, neat continuum though. All at once, in any order, whenever, wherever. Grief is an individual, unique happening in a person’s life, as they deal with their loss in their own way.

I’m not dealing with it very well. I’m not denying it, nor am I angry. I’m not bargaining with anyone, neither can I accept it really. I am just sad. Depressed I suppose. All the time. Anything can set this feeling off. Whether it’s watching aeroplane vapour trails, hearing a song on the radio, looking at a photograph, or standing beside your graveside.

I am lost without you. For thirty years we looked after you, took care of your every need and fought for you. You and your younger brother were our whole family, and we spent many happy times travelling the world together. Your brother grew up and moved on, but because of your autism, you remained with us. Our holidays were booked for three adults, but you were a child to us. Like a twelve year old, for eighteen more years.

And today I am sad. Crying for you when visiting the cemetery today. It seems so unreal that this has happened (denial). It’s just not fair at all (anger). Why couldn’t it have been me? (bargaining). I’m still crying (depression). I touch your cross, tell you I love you, and we drive away (acceptance). And I’m still so very sad. We had so much planned for you, so many places still to see, so many theme park rides to try, so many more roads to travel.

We loved you so very much, and this is probably why our grief is so immense. It is so heartbreakingly sad to realise you are gone.

Love you forever, angel xxxxx

Remembering ~ Good times #4

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Saturday 30th May

December 2006 was our first visit to the Keys. My father had sailed down from South Carolina, and was spending the winter in Boot Key on Marathon, living aboard his 42 foot yacht. We didn’t need too much persuasion to join him. We had spent a couple of Christmas holidays in Orlando, with all the family, prior to this trip, enjoying the over-the-top Mickey Mouse world of theme parks, shopping and food. Given the option of the Florida Keys was something we couldn’t turn down. We all love travelling, and visiting such a beautiful place was a perfect choice.

We landed in Miami a couple of days after Christmas, picked up the hire car, then began the drive south, first on the mainland, then across the numerous bridges linking the Keys. A spectacular drive with the Atlantic ocean on our left, and the Gulf of Mexico on our right. The temperature was in the eighties, the herons and pelicans flew overhead and countless watercraft were making their way across the sparkling, azure water.

Just before we reached Marathon we stopped for a break at the Worldwide Sportsman on Islamorada, to stretch our legs, and to have a bite to eat in the Islamorada Fish Company restaurant. What a fabulous setting. Tarpon and nurse sharks swam by as we sat taking in the amazing views.

It was almost dark when we arrived at Boot Key Marina, and both my father and my cousin came to meet us in tenders, to transport us, and our luggage onto the yacht. I really don’t know how they navigated through the buoys and sandbanks in the dark, but we made it safely. You were so tired after a long flight, and then the drive, that you went to bed straightaway. We all stayed on deck, talking, laughing and drinking until the early hours, with much to catch up on.

We spent our days exploring, whether swimming at Sombrero Beach, walking through Bahia Honda State Park, or having fun in the spectacle that is Key West. At night we marvelled at the magnificent golden sunsets, and were awe-struck by the dolphins dipping and diving around the boat. You were mesmerised.

A few miles back from Vaca Key, where we were staying, is Grassy Key, and having driven up and down US1 a number of times, you had excitedly spotted the Dolphin Research Centre. We called in and you immediately decided you wanted to swim with the dolphins. You had read about autistic children and adults being able to interact with these creatures, and the beneficial outcomes to be gained. We booked you in for a session the following morning.

It was a gorgeous blue-sky, and having parked the car, we made our way into the facility. There was a little paperwork to fill in, and having discovered you had Asperger Syndrome, a special needs coordinator was assigned to you. We sat in the shade and watched you getting ready for your dolphin experience. Suddenly you turned to us, saying you didn’t want to do it, that you were frightened. All credit to the young lady with you; she spoke softly, telling you what to expect, calming your fears. She did an amazing job in keeping you focused, that you soon changed your mind.

You listened to the dolphins ‘speaking’ underwater by putting your ear below the surface, you held out your hands to touch the creature as it swam by, you had a handshake with it’s flippers, gave it a kiss, and for the finale, you clasped it’s dorsal fin, and were taken for a ride back and forth. Your smile was huge. You exhibited no fear at all, putting your trust in such a gentle but intelligent sea mammal.

This wasn’t a Disneyland ‘swim with the dolphins’, in a man-made, plastic-landscaped environment, but an experience with these animals in their natural habitat. Your dolphin was called Kibby, and it was truly wonderful to watch. Your demeanour changed, you were so happy and care-free, and we loved you for it.

We bought the requisite photo, t-shirt and cuddly toy. And that blue and white, plush dolphin toy, is with you now, my darling Angel son. We decided to put it beside you, in your coffin, so you could continue swimming with the dolphins in heaven. We hope you are having fun, and they are looking after you.

Swim peacefully.
We miss you every day; today more than yesterday, but not as much as we will tomorrow.
Love you xxx

My Angel

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Friday 29th May

A dear friend, whom I have known for well over forty years, sent me a card for my birthday yesterday. Inside was a wonderful silver Angel lapel pin.

“Walking quietly with you
Is the dearest friend of all
Travelling life’s path with you
Carrying you when you fall.”

“Angels are universally known to bring comfort and love to all.
To receive an angel is to receive the purest of love and she should be cherished forever.”

Such a lovely, thoughtful gift. I will certainly treasure it and keep it with me always.

My son unexpectedly gained his angel wings on 12th March this year. He was thirty years old, diagnosed with testicular cancer and one day from completing his one hundred days of chemotherapy. His body could not take the aggressive regime of the cytotoxic treatment.

We were not prepared for his passing. We thought he was winning, we knew the tumour in his brain had shrunk markedly. We were making plans with him. We had so much hope.

And now? He has become an angel, and we are left behind: sad, empty, numb, not knowing what to do next. We miss him so desperately. Irrevocably changing our lives. The future has been rewritten for us, but we have no idea of our part within it.

Angel son.
Love you forever xxx

My birthday

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Thursday 28th May

So, here we are again. Another ‘first’, without you. My first birthday without you here to share it with me. Normally you would be home for the half term holiday, along with a present and a card for me. Your presents have ranged from wrongly-sized, pointed stiletto boots, strange, yellow chiffon dresses, to car boot, sparkly jewellery, pretty necklaces or a big, pink, faceted crystal. I’ve missed you so much today. I really have.

We spent the afternoon watching your brother and his girlfriend, kite-surfing, along with my sister. It was a bright and blustery day. You would have enjoyed it. We had lunch at the Sunset Surf Cafe, and later on, dinner at the Beach café-bar.

It’s so hard trying to enjoy things, when suddenly you’re reminded that you are no longer around to share these times with us.

Angel son. We grow older, and you remain forever thirty years old.

Love you, miss you.
Wish it wasn’t so.
xxxx

Fundraiser finale

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Wednesday 27th May

It was beautifully sunny and quite warm when we visited this morning, for our daily chat with you. It doesn’t seem to get any easier to accept that you are no longer with us. After all you had been through with the chemotherapy, we honestly thought you were winning, and on the home straight. How wrong could we be?

In the afternoon, Dad sold his car, the Audi, that you called an old banger. It really wasn’t a banger at all. Dad loved that car, and for over ten years, he drove you, sitting in the back seat, behind him. Up and down to London, Exeter, Bristol, Plymouth or Wareham. Dad would watch you in the rear-view mirror, just checking you were ok. Most often you would sleep on long journeys, or listen to music or stories. I think Dad was very upset to see his car being driven away. He had so many memories of you being a passenger. Dad did cry a little, and asked me why you had to die. I want to know the answer to that too. Why? You fought so very hard. It’s not fair at all.

This evening we had the raffle drawing following the fundraiser we had for you over the weekend. There were many, many prizes: everyone has been incredibly generous. We raised such a lot of money in your memory, that will go towards the testicular cancer charity, Checkemlads. We were also raising awareness of this young man’s disease. I think we did you proud. I hope you know what we have done in your name, and are smiling down on us.

If, in some way we can help others, because of what happened to you, then your legacy will become far-reaching.

I just wish it wasn’t so.
I wish you were still alive.
I wish you were here with me now.
I miss you so very much.
I love you so very much.

xxxx

Dad’s op

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Tuesday 26th May

This morning your Dad had to go to hospital for an operation to remove a cataract. It was straightforward, and all went well, but I had to sit in the foyer waiting. A couple of hours, watching the comings and goings of staff and patients. And I thought of you all the time.

This was the hospital where you had your first CT scan, and they found the brain tumour, sending us off to the bigger hospital as a medical emergency. That was back in November 2014.

So many ‘What if…’, ‘Why…’, ‘I wish…’ and ‘If only…’ thoughts were going round and round my head.

I was pleased when I was eventually called to go and collect your Dad, and we were able to drive away. Our next stop was to come and see you, but Dad forgot about the instructions the surgeon had given, and when he bent down to touch your cross, a sharp pain was felt behind his eye. He swore, then apologised to you for his bad language. You would have told him off.

Dad sat down for a while and held his head back, allowing the pain to go. It was peaceful, bright and sunny in the cemetery, and the sound of songbirds filled the air. We simply like being near you, talking and tending to the flowers.

Tears flow as we think of what might have been. If only………

Lovely boy.
Sweet Angel.
xxxx

Fundraiser Day Two

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Sunday 24th May

So there we were again, standing at the front of the store, selling raffle tickets (terrific prizes), and trying to raise awareness of the awful disease (testicular cancer), that claimed your life ten and a half weeks ago.

So many mixed emotions. So many people who knew you want to help our cause. For the most part we are able to keep these emotions in check, and talk about you and what we’re doing. And yet sometimes, the mask slips, and we just can’t help a few tears.

We stand at the front of the store for most of the day, again my sister comes along to help out, and my mum too. I think we have raised a considerable amount of money in your name, over the weekend. I hope people also took notice of the cause, the charity Checkemlads, with this type of cancer becoming less of a taboo subject, and certainly more talked about between young men aged 16 to 35 years old.

Having packed away all the display material and collecting buckets soon after four, we go to visit you in the cemetery. There a young family, whom we know by sight, are visiting the graveside of their daughter who died aged eighteen, ten years ago today. She would be the same age as your brother. We share a few hugs and tears, with a realisation that the pain never leaves, and then we walk up to your resting place. We talk to you, we hope you know we are close by, and we tell you we love you so, so much. And we miss you. We miss you every single minute of every single hour, in every single day.

xxx

Fundraiser Day One

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Saturday 23rd May

So here we are, the first day of raising awareness of testicular cancer, and money for the charity Checkemlads, in memory of you. We didn’t really want to get up and get going this morning, as the whole reason for this fundraiser is your passing.

The hurt is still so raw, you are in our thoughts constantly, so many reminders all around that make us catch our breath, or shed a tear.

Many people gave their condolences and spoke of you, saying they missed seeing you walking around the town or beaches.

We had a big life-size photo of you placed on a pillar, and it was as if you were watching over the proceedings. I do wonder what you might have been thinking. I hope we have done you proud.

We escaped for a couple of hours when my sister took over the selling of the raffle tickets. We left the noisy, crowded supermarket and came to see you. The cemetery was peaceful, with the sun trying to break through the mist. We talked to you, and cried for you, and told of our love for you.

Our emotions seem to rollercoaster up and down of their own accord. In one situation we put on brave faces, speak of you and our adventures together fairly easily. But when we are alone we fall to pieces. The world just seems to come to a halt, and we don’t know where we are going. We cannot see the way forward. Without you.

We remain with you for quite some time, return home to freshen up, then drive back to the supermarket to continue selling tickets and talking about you.

At the end of day one, we have raised a considerable amount of money. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll do the same all over again.

Your legacy is going to be amazing, but I still wish you were here.

I miss you.
I want a cuddle, a hug, a smile, an ‘I love you’.

xxxxx

Preparing for tomorrow

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Friday 22nd May

We have spent much of the day preparing for your fundraiser tomorrow.
And we have so many bittersweet feelings.
We are doing something good in your memory.
But we really wish it was not so.

I wonder what you would have thought?
All this fuss, just for you.
Maybe you would have shied away.
But we feel we need to raise awareness of this awful disease.

We miss you my darling.
The pain is permanent.
Love you forever.
Beautiful son.
Angel baby.