I’ve been absent from the blogging world for a while. Though to be honest I could say I’ve been away from life for a while. The worse of all possible things happened and I lost my dearest M at moments before midnight on April 25th.
Despite her being so ill she was determined to beat the dreaded stomach cancer and being so used to getting her own way - it was such a shock that her incredibly valiant efforts were in vain.
I still can’t believe that she isn’t there anymore and even after a few weeks I have found it immensely difficult to even start to write this post and days to actually finish it. I’m so used to us sharing the minutiae of our daily lives and I still reach out for the phone to relate some snippet I heard or saw and then of course it hits me again and that overwhelming feeling of emptiness descends.
One thing we haven’t been able to share for a long time is a meal. The last time we did was back in September for my birthday meal at Michael Caines @ Abode in Manchester. It was a wonderful tasting menu which I haven’t blogged yet, maybe due to the connotations around that day. At the end of the meal M was feeling very sick and it turned out to be the beginning of all that was to come. She started being sick every day but she thought she knew what ailed her and that she could deal with it by mainlining Gaviscon and hot mocha chocolate drinks. Little did we realise then that it was something much worse, how pervasive it was becoming and how life was never going to be the same again. I now know much more that I ever needed or wanted about enteral feeding, metastatic gastric adenocarcinoma and linitis plastica (words I never dreamt would appear in my blog). I know fascinating facts now for example that stomach cancer is more prevalent in Asian males, may be caused by helicobacter pylori (which is the rabid acid producing stomach bacteria problem M thought had returned) and is generally considered to be exacerbated by a high salt, low vegetable diet. Have I been right all along about all that vegetable dodging?
I really can’t imagine life without her but as that choice has been taken away from me I will just have to find a way to keep smiling. I am lucky I have some amazing friends who’ve been so incredibly supportive, have showered me with beautiful cards and heartfelt messages, who’ve been there when I needed them and left me alone when I yearned to be by myself. And K even sent me a red heart-shaped Le Creuset casserole dish for when I am feeling more inclined to mass catering. Thank you so much, all of you, without you I couldn't have got this far.
I’ve always tried not to live with regrets but I do regret that we didn’t talk more about what was happening to her, our fears and how we really felt about it all. M was going to beat this for sure so what was the point? We would talk about our next holiday – probably that Paris trip we’ve been promising ourselves for way too long or what crab filled treat I would cook her when she could eat again. Maybe that was our way of dealing with it all. She never even read the post I wrote when I was first coming to terms with everything and I wish I’d read it to her whilst I had the chance. I would love to know if she approved of the funeral service I organised, the songs and readings we listened to through the tears, the cascades of our favourite white lilies on a very alternative and green bamboo casket (not the type of bamboo pandas eat though!), whether the specially requested canapés passed muster and if she appreciated the significance of me wearing my red shoes. Though I know for sure that she would have been delighted as I was by how many people came to say goodbye to her.
In the words of Mary Poppins M declared herself to be “practically perfect” and even though I would never admit it before she was possibly right and everything will be a little less perfect without her. Goodbye M, I will always miss you.