Wednesday, July 02, 2008

So almost 4 months have passed and what a time it's been. Many good and and interesting things have taken place, included amongst them a thrilling end to the season with Bristol City, my first venture into the the world of being a classical music DJ/promoter, a chance to catch up with friends in France and a trip to the ATP festival in Minehead.

The bad things though have been really bad.Whilst we were at ATP my sister was taken into hospital following problems with her legs. Sue was struggling with cancer for many years and it had now spread into her spine. Within a couple of days she had completely lost the use of her legs we knew that her life span would be measured in months rather than years.

The rest of May saw Sue coming to terms with the changes in her life. Being forced to stay within the hospital was tough, overseeing the relocation of her pets and finally giving up smoking were also big hurdles which she dealt with. We were set to go off to France for a week on Saturday May 31st, spending half a week with our old friends Bob & Karen in their home in Southern France then heading to Bordeaux 4 days.

On the Thursday night before we were due to make the trip, Orynthia took a call from my mum, as I came into the room it was clear that something was wrong and I assumed that things had worsened for Sue. Orynthia passed the phone to me and said "Aunty Mair is dead".

Aunty Mair was my mums only sister and the one person in the family which Sue kept in touch with through all those years when she thought that family was too hard to deal with. Over the years the two of them kept in regular phone contact, although as they both had health issues and didn't drive actual meetups were few and far between. Just before Sue went into hospital we managed bring Mair and her son Robert over from South Wales for the day so that they could spend some time with her. I'm so pleased that we managed to do that, it was a lovely day.

On hearing the news from mum our initial reaction was to cancel the holiday, however we thought that we would sleep on things. The next morning Mum and I went into the hospital to break the news to Sue. She actually took it well although she was obviously shocked. We spent most of the morning with her and considering all the circumstances she was in very good spirits. It emerged that the funeral for Aunty Mair would take place the following Friday, so after talking to everyone we decided that we would still go to see Bob & Karen but would then cut our trip short and come back to Bristol on the Wednesday evening in order to attend the funeral.

The trip to France was a delight, Bob & Karen were the perfect hosts as they guided us around the ridiculously lovely countryside around their new home. We set off for home delighted that we had managed to get away for a few days.

We returned home in the early evening on Wednesday, I called mum to see how things were and she sounded very down about Sue's condition. It was getting towards 11:30 pm and we were just getting ready for bed after a long days travelling when my mum phoned. The hospital had called her, advising that she should come into the hospital as Sue's condition was very serious.We drove over to Staple Hill, picked up my mum and had a very apprehensive journey into town.

When we arrived on the ward, we waited in an office for the doctor to come and talk to us. I think that we all thought that Sue had already left us. After a short wait the doctor came in and and advised us that Sue was still alive but was not expected to make it through the night. We then went in and sat with Sue until around 5:30 in the morning, the staff were fantastic doing all that they could to make Sue and us as comfortable as they could. Come 5:30 we were exhausted and contemplated going home for a while. The staff said it was impossible to predict how long Sue would last, so we decided to take mum back to our houses and try to sleep for a couple of hours, which somehow we managed to do.

Just after 7.15am I was awoken with a start as the phone rang, It's strange to pick up the phone when you already know what the person on the other end is going to say. The nurse confirmed that Sue had passed away just after 7am. I went into our spare bedroom and woke my mum to give her the news. Within a short space of time we were up and dressed and heading back to the hospital, moving on autopilot as the rest of the city stirred itself for another busy day.

Once again the staff in the hospital were absolutely wonderful. We went in to see her body and the bed was covered with Sue's favourite blanket, she looked peaceful after the struggles of the previous evening. After a brief period we gathered up her possessions and headed away from the ward for the last time.

The next day Orynthia, Mum and Carl who was still living at home with Sue took the trip to Pontypridd for Aunty Mairs funeral. We met up up my cousin Robert and his family. No one knew who to commiserate with first! It was an emotional and tiring day but gave us the chance to find out that are family members that we really like even though we'd never met them before.

The following week was spent organising Sue's funeral. Sue had opted for a woodland funeral and the wonderful people at Heaven on earth helped us arrange a day which I think Sue would have wanted. Lot's of music, no religious content and lovely coffin made of Willow from Somerset. Again the funeral gave us a chance to catch up with friends old and new to mark the end of an exhausting period in our life.

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