Friday, 25 September 2015

42. F@&K Cancer!

I apologise if this month’s title offends anyone, but I hope you understand it embodies my current thinking. It’s also the name of a worldwide fund raising campaign so it feels right to share it.

This month’s column says so much for something so little. It’s sadder still that such a little word can cause so much heartbreak.

There are few things more heartbreaking than losing a loved one, especially through something as indiscriminating as cancer.

Recently a local family had to say goodbye to their beautiful son. Following their incredible story online, it was devastating to learn that despite doing everything in their power to save him; this brave young battler’s fight is now over. In my mind, he now watches over them from a place of love.

Losing my father to cancer almost four years ago was soul shattering. And now we are preparing to farewell my husband’s mother, once again to the same (insert swear word here) disease. It’s never easy to tell your children that someone so beloved and influential in their lives has gone. And it’s harder still to look at those little faces and stay strong.

I don’t know anyone whose life hasn’t been touched by this biological terror in some way. I have beautiful friends who are cancer survivors and I am in awe of their determination and bravery. I’m just as amazed and humbled by those who battled to the end, fierce warriors all the way.

Rest in peace, dear ones, and know we will always love and miss you.

I lost my dad to melanoma, and even though I was blessed to have had him in my life for several years, along with my mother and siblings, I will always wish we had more. He helped me through my school years, the terrible teens and my string of; let’s just say ‘interesting’ boyfriends. He was there to give me away at my wedding, to congratulate me on my first writing competition win and most importantly, he was there to greet and love every grandchild and great grandchild with whom we were blessed.

Since then, cancer has claimed my sister’s mother-in-law, a friend, and as mentioned in the column, a young teen whose life I’ve followed through the beautiful and heartfelt words of his mother and other family members. And just days after this brave young man’s passing, my children had to say goodbye to ‘Nana’, my husband to his mother and I to a woman who welcomed me into her family – a woman who loved her granddaughters dearly and with a determination that they will remember all their lives.

Along with my dad, she won’t be there physically to watch them grow and mature. She won’t get to see them dressed for their proms or asked out on their first date and conclude the poor, unfortunate would-be suitor just isn’t good enough for her girls. And should my daughters decide to marry or whatever the current trend might be by then, their grandparents won’t be there to hear their granddaughters say ‘I do’.

Now I wouldn’t be much of a paranormal writer if I didn’t embrace the possibility that they’ll be around in spirit. My dad and I often talked about what might be waiting ‘over the other side’ and he promised he’d let me know he was all right once he was there – wherever ‘there’ is. My dad’s family nickname was ‘Frog’.  I live near a creek, and on that side of the house, we’ve spotted the occasional frog on the kids’ bathroom window. We’ve never seen one on the opposite side where my bathroom is. On the night he passed, you guessed it; there was a frog on my bathroom window. It had short legs and a round belly, just like my dad. We looked eye to eye for a few moments before it hopped away, but I knew it was my sign from Dad that he was okay.

Along with her ability to make anyone feel at ease, my mother in law was well known for her love of roses, particularly burgundy ones as that was her favourite colour. They filled the church where we had her service and we placed several on her coffin as a sign of our love and respect. Afterwards, as we were exiting the car in the driveway of the house she once shared with her husband, the overwhelming scent of roses surrounded us. Although she has rose bushes in her garden, the buds hadn’t opened nor had any of the neighbours’. Once again, in our minds, we had our sign that she was okay. It may sound silly to some, but if someone finds comfort in such thoughts and actions, then I think that’s all that matters.

So, this month, despite spending time with family and friends who loved ‘Nana’ dearly and attending a service that was more than fitting for an English Rose turned Naturalised Australian, for she loved her adopted country that much, I hope you’ll forgive me for sharing my sadness rather than my usual posts. I’ve always found solace in writing when the world, emotions, and life have become too much. Words have been my greatest joy, my source of comfort and my salvation and this blog is no exception.

Rest in Peace, Vivien. Enjoy a cup of tea with Stan, and I’m sure Dad will be more than happy to share some of his famous home brew as together you watch over us all.