This week we learnt about the death of the lovely Lynda Bellingham from that horrid disease Cancer. She was brave and faced her untimely end with courage and a smile. She did wish for one thing though, one last Christmas with her family. Well, I'm so sorry she didn't get her wish. Cancer doesn't care about Christmas.
I was in two minds to write this because it's something tucked safely away for me now. Always there, but not shared.
I wanted to spend Christmas with my mum, just like the old days. We hadn't spoken to each other for five years, then we started talking again and rebuilding our relationship. We spent one Christmas exchanging gifts, but the next year we felt we'd progressed enough to spend some time together at Christmas. Up until the fall out I'd always spent Christmas with my mum, even when I was married and had my older children. I was really looking forward to doing it again. We made plans, we wrote lists, we'd even completed a little Christmas shopping.
Then she got sick.
Then we were told it was cancer.
Then we were told that she had weeks to live...not years, not months, weeks!
She made it until Christmas. I got to spend Christmas day with her. In the morning I held her hand while she rested. In the afternoon I held her hand while she rested in peace forever.
That was a Christmas to remember indeed.
It's been six years now and, although it was really difficult at first, I do enjoy Christmas again. When you have small children you get consumed by the magic surrounding Christmas. The traditions, the beliefs, the fairy tales if you wish. I still think of mum but I can still enjoy Christmas with my family. It does make you realise though, sometimes wishes don't come true, especially when Cancer rears it's ugly head.
I've always found it difficult to offer help and advice when it comes to grief. I never know what to say. It's such a personal experience and it is different for everyone. Do you offer up some kind words, do you tell them the pain won't last forever? Do you tell them what to do to make it easier to bare? I had all of this and more offered to me when I was hurting. It was lovely to know that people cared about how I felt, that they wanted to make things easier for me. It also made me really sad. Anyone who has experienced grief knows that there is nothing you can say or do to make them feel any better. You can show you care though. If you don't know what to say then just say you are thinking about them, that you care how they feel. Sometimes, the simplest words are the best.
Me and my mum, on holiday 30+ years ago