Following the aftermath of the worst day of our lives, the family supported and worked together to divide time to visit Mum at the hospital. She found it exhausting at times, but she found it so comforting. I had come to work and told my manager and colleagues the devastating news – which they were very understanding and offered to help in any way. I broke down in tears in front of one of my colleagues who I was quite close to and she gave me the most loving warm hug (which I really needed). ‘Go and be there for her!’ Never mind this place, just go right now!’ She said in a compassionate voice. And so I ran out.
I spent so much time with Mum in the hospital this one particular day, and tried to ask for any help she might need that I had forgotten to eat. ‘Kate, let’s take you and Max back to ours and get you something to eat’, my Auntie Maggie (Uncle Kevin’s wife) said. ‘You must be hungry and exhausted’. Auntie Maggie had also come to visit Mum for a bit and had some free time to buy her some toiletries and other bits and bobs to keep her going. I didn’t want to leave her and always felt guilty but she was getting very tired. ‘You’ll see me very soon, Mum,’ Max and I both said to her. So we let her have a sleep and quietly slipped out the door.
Aunt Maggie drove us back to their house and made some lovely sandwiches. I always enjoyed it whenever as a family, we would go over to their house for dinner or even just to pop over for a couple of hours. The atmosphere in the house is always happy and positive. Filled with full of laughter and fun. I would also see my cousins around this time I come and visit the house. But they were working and doing their own thing, so it was very quiet – plus Uncle Kevin was working that day.
Usually my appetite is huge and I always come back for more food but this time, I found it very hard to even take a small bite. Just could not bring myself to do it.
‘It’s okay, Kate’, Maggie said gently while watching me try to even attempt taking a bite. ‘You don’t have to eat all of it, love. Just leave it on the side. We’ve all got try and build our strength to be strong for Theresa,’ (hearing that sentence made my eyes slightly tear up).
‘ I know…’ I said quietly. ‘Thanks, Auntie Maggie. The sandwich is nice’. ‘Pleasure, love’, she smiled. She drove us all the way back home so Max and I could relax and get some rest.
The next morning, Max and I both had a day off and went together to the hospital. When we walked into her little room in the ward, Mum was quietly sitting upright and having a cup of tea (bless her). ‘Hello, darlings’, she looked up at us with surprise and had a huge smile on her face. ‘How are you feeling, mum?’ I asked as I went to sit on the edge of the hospital bed. ‘Oh, you know. Same thing, absolutely shit! But I’m just so pleased you’re both here, I’ve missed you so much. I can’t stand it here anymore and want to go home’. She explained that they might have to do a biopsy and give her some medication to help her digest food properly. A nurse had given her some food and a nutrition drink to give her the nutrients her body needed.
She took some mouthfuls of her lunch which looked like some kind of meat and vegetables dish – which didn’t look at all that appetising. Within a few minutes, she was full and slowly leaned back on the bed to lie down. ‘Aaah, that’s better’, she sighed with relief.
We were having a lovely conversation and reminiscing when suddenly a pretty butterfly had caught her eye and had fluttered in through the open window. ‘Oh!’she gasped. ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’ We watched it fly around for a moment when it got suddenly trapped in between the shutters. ‘Oh my god!’ Mum started to panic. ‘Max, try and get it out’. He started to push the shutters upwards but they were very stiff and he was struggling. I could tell in her voice that she was becoming a little stressed. ‘Please, Max get it out. I can’t bear this’. ‘Mum, relax’. I said gently and rubbed her back. ‘Why are you getting stressed about the butterfly?’ (It seemed a little strange). ‘Just please! Get it out. I don’t want it to die..’ she started getting anxious and was shaking. I had never seen her behave like this before.
We all watched him nervously. Then within a painful few minutes later…
‘I’ve done it!’ Max shouted out with delight. It’s wing was slightly damaged from it being caught in the shutter but it managed to slowly fly out into the sunshine. But this was too overwhelming for Mum and she started to cry. ‘Ooh, Mum. It’s okay, everything’s fine’. I went to comfort her and held her hand. She was quiet for a moment and then said, ‘I never want to see anything like that again. To watch something as beautiful as that almost die in front of my very eyes just terrifies me’.
Both of us didn’t know what to say but she knew we both understood.
The inevitable was now on her mind.