Facing up to the truth about life before death
I miss my interactions with my French class friends, my hydrotherapy companions and my book-club buddies.
My neighbours and friends are superb and pop in and out when they can but have to stay away at the hint of a sore throat or upset stomach.
However, for the first time in my life I have begun to enjoy TV and am enjoying catching up on box sets, much to my children’s amusement. Radio has always been my companion but internet radio is incredible.
You can tune in to so many different stations and travel to places in your mind, as you snooze in your chair. Yesterday I listened to a Tanzanian radio station and went to Dar Es Salaam again where we lived for the early years of our married life. Magic.
Setting oneself mini-tasks to complete, helps. I love making things so am setting myself projects to make Christmas presents, complete tapestries for friends, and knit baby clothes for my unborn grandchildren.
Some jobs can only be completed in small doses. Compiling family photo albums and sorting through my children’s memorabilia reduces me to a raging, weeping heap.
10 Take out long-term serious illness cover. We didn’t. Having a terminal illness is expensive. We have been saving hard over the past few years for our retirement so I have no hope of a medical card.
My husband needs our car for work so if I need to go anywhere independent of family or friends or get home from hospital on my own, it involves an expensive taxi. I get cold easily so need heating on during the day. I can be wobbly going up and down stairs so we need to put in an additional stair rail.
I no longer have the energy to do housework and am blessed with a wonderful helper who comes to help me clean the house every week but she needs to be paid.
If I manage to stay at home as I deteriorate, the list of adaptations to the house will grow and there will be other things I will need. I am grateful for my workplace’s sick pay and the Social Welfare cheques, but they don’t make up for my sudden lack of earnings and the hidden costs of being seriously ill.
Three years ago, I had major surgery on my neck to remove a collapsed disc that had been pressing on my spinal nerve and compromising my mobility. I vowed that if I survived and got my mobility back, I would never again take life for granted.
I haven’t. There hasn’t been a day since when I havent given thanks for the joy of living. Learning to live “mindfully” and in the everyday has enriched my life enormously. However, it is a myth that living mindfully stops one thinking about the future.
On the cusp of a new chapter
Ours was within reach and we were so excited about it. We have two grandchildren on the way. Retirement in our beloved France was a reality. Our youngest child is launching herself into independent adult life so, after 33 years of child-rearing, that phase of parenting is nearly over.
We were on the cusp of a new chapter of life. There are no words to describe the loss and grief of knowing that I will not be part of it. A few months ago, I had a medium and long-term future, now I don’t. I’m not alone.
It could be you tomorrow so let’s loosen up a bit, shall we? Let’s be realistic. “Staying positive” may help everyone else feel better but when the prognosis is anything but, it can actually feel dishonest.
Let’s try to be a bit more honest and start talking about this thing called death and learn to treat it as a reality so that we can prepare ourselves through shared experiences and common wisdom.
I have travelled all my life but this is the hardest and loneliest journey I have ever made.
I had thought it was a journey I would be taking many years hence, so had never taken time to consider what I would need for it, or the routes it might take.
I could do with a guidebook or two or some help in acquiring the skills I am going to need as the going gets tougher. Anyone got any ideas?