Dear Mum and Dad
Hello! There, that seems innocuous enough, doesn’t it.
As I don’t know where to start, I’ll start somewhere fun.
It’s been nice to spend a bit of time with you over the last few months for all the good reasons we’ve had to get together; what with my 40th birthday party, nights out including Cambridge, and various family parties and meals and so on, it’s been quite a sociable few months for me.
As you know, sometimes it’s easier to say things when you have time to construct a letter. You wrote me a long one the year I was ill and I wanted to write this to talk about the last few weeks.
Firstly, as I’m sure you know, I love you both. Very very much.
Secondly, thank you for your unwavering support over the years. You’ve both always gone out of your way to help me and my sister out. Whether it was being our own personal taxi service as school kids, scrimping and saving to buy us cool toys, letting me drive your car to school so I could learn, buying things for us kids and doing without yourselves, lending me money for my first car, first computer, first house; whatever we needed you did it and more.
You’ve always been brilliant. This time 2 years ago, when my world had just come crashing down and I was having to be hooked up to bags of poison, you both sat there on my sofa, chatting about nonsense with me and helping me put up with being turned into a human pincushion, whilst trying not to look too aghast.
2012 was my crappy health year. I got through it though and here we are. Then 2013 apparently had to be Mum’s tough year, dealing with recurrence of breast cancer and having to have chemo this time. That was so stressful and hard for her but at least I could help her through it to some small extent because it was something we had in common and we kind of knew how to deal with it.
Wow, 2013 was such a weird, wonderful and awful time rolled into one. I really thought this year you would be able to make the most of your retirement. 2014 was meant to be the year you could both go off and forget all of this, and go on holiday…
Certainly none of us anticipated that your plans would be derailed again…
And if you’re feeling shell-shocked, I can totally understand that.
I am too.
Dad, it’s tough that you now also need treatment – because you’re never ill. I’ve tried very hard to come up with a memory of you being ill in the whole of my life, and failed! So it doesn’t fit in my head that you to have to have an operation to get rid of cancer, now.
I was just starting to get my head around your situation, Dad, and start to get organised to help you and Mum while you recovered, and then…
The unthinkable happened again.
Mum’s ill… and in so much pain. I hoped for the best this weekend when she was hospitalised with her fractured vertebra… But whilst we now understand it’s metastatic cancer in her spine, what we can do is look for anything positive to hold on to… And imagine time moving forward faster, to a point where everything can be stabilised, her pain is reduced and she can walk again.
So here I am, sat with you all in hospital, listening to the creaks and clicks and beeps, the coughs and murmurs and bustle of the ward and typing this whilst Mum sleeps. And you probably won’t get to read this letter anytime soon, but I will know it’s there ready for a time when you can, and in the meantime I’ll keep telling you all how much you’re loved anyway, so no loss.
I think it’s an understatement to say we have a tough few weeks ahead of us (emotionally and physically in Mum’s case) but I will be here with you every step of the way. So will Jen. And we will all get through this together.
We are lucky you see… We have lots of love, we are a really tight-knit family with lots of lovely people in it who will be there for us.
And I’ll be there for you.
When you’re down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon i will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend
Lyrics to “You’ve got a friend” by Carole King, 1971