How has this week been? Probably the shittest one of my life. My mother passed away last Sunday, Mothering Sunday.
The last edit left off just after my birthday on the 23rd of Feb. It was that day my nana and uncle were visiting my mum and noticed her face falling to one side a bit. Investigations took place and my dad called me on the 27th and told me there had been complications and the cancer had spread to her brain. I have so many questions still. So many unanswered questions but now is not the time for them. More detail will follow. He told me that she has been given weeks to live and that I should come down as soon as I could. I couldn't believe it. I still can't.
We were currently knee deep in snow and the weather forecast was still looking scary but that Saturday we packed our bags and made the journey down. I had 3 panic attacks, several crying sessions and many stops at services but we made it there for about 6ish, dropped our bags at the hotel then headed straight to my mums.
Whilst mum was in hospital over the year she had been wittering on about getting some budgies for when she got out, so Lili, last minute managed to find a pair of cute ones and bought them on the way down to Stamford. They are called Pretty and Sage and genuinely, adorably cute. Mum loved them. On Sunday we had planned a huge roast with all of her closest family, her brothers, mum, nieces and myself, dad and lili all crammed in to the dining room and had lovely roast beef followed by trifle at mums request.
It was a weird day. We all knew it would be the last time we spent together as a whole but it wasn't overly sad. Just a little solemn, At this point mum was doing OK, she was herself, she was chatty, just a bit tired from the drugs. It was crazy to think the doctors had said she had only weeks left when she was sat there cracking jokes just like she always did.
We were in such a horrid limbo situation, we knew it was going to happen just not when so when we booked the hotel we explained this to them and they were amazing. They let us have a kind of rolling room and just let them know in the evening if we would be there the next day. They moved us to a quiet part of the hotel (though tbh most of it is) and they let Michael work in the business suite as room wifi wasn't too good. If you're ever in Stamford, have a look at The George. It was also our wedding venue, so I am slightly biased.
The days were long. I would get up around 8ish, have breakfast, go up to the house and spend the day there till about 11pm. I would run errands for dad, fetch mums medication, make calls, do dishes, just try and be as helpful as possible. Lili taught me how to look after her, when which drugs were taken when, and play nurse. As the week went on, she was fading. Dying.
Michael went back up to Leeds on Saturday morning and I checked in to an air bnb just to see what it was like, and if I preferred being self catered (I wasn't really eating apart from rice and chicken and I couldn't ask the hotel to microwave me some Uncle Bens!)
By Saturday evening Mum wasn't opening her eyes at all, as I tucked her in that night, I told her "just please don't let it be tomorrow'.
My sister came to pick me up at 9.15 from the air bnb I was staying in. Lili said she wasn't doing well that morning, the nurse had come and she was now on to the 'gold sheet' of drugs (these are the end of life ones). We swung past a hotel to pic up my auntie and cousin (on dads side as this would be their first mothering sunday without their own mum as nana died in January) then Miss Pickering to collect mothers day flowers, as we got through the door of the house I saw that the nurse was back, Lili had gone in before me because I was faffing taking the bouquet pic outside. I saw her crying and she just shook her head. Mummy had passed away.
I took the bouquet in to where she was laying. I hugged my nana and dad then I don't really remember much. The nurse was lovely, she had to do some final checks on mum and I remember her talking to her just as she did when she was alive "just lifting your arm up Fay, just warming up my stethoscope". After it had sunk in, we then called the funeral directors, as the death was expected and happened at home there was no need for a coroner and they could come and take her away. The rest was a bit of a blur. My godmother came over from Cambridge, my uncles were there, Michael drove back down and at about 4pm we went for a walk in to town.
When we got back, I placed her mothers day card next to the flowers, and a really tacky glittery photo frame I had text her a picture of a few weeks beforehand that I had seen in Tesco. She said it was awful so naturally, it went in the basket. It was just so sad, the flowers she never saw and the card she never read, just sat there next to where she had been only a few hours earlier.
We booked back in to The George, they were so helpful yet again and made me feel so calm and welcome. I didn't sleep that night. I haven't really slept much since.
I have never experienced grief before. It comes in waves. As the week went on there were times I would be fine. Like when I was arguing with the doctors because we needed the death certificate but the only 2 doctors that had seen her were both on holiday...I was calm and composed (ok maybe a little arsey by the time it had gotten to Thursday and there was still no certificate and you're meant to legally register a death within 5 days, you also can't start any funeral proceedings until the death has been registered). But I would then see the Nigel Slater Christmas Chronicles book I had bought her and wrote "for next year" in, then cry uncontrollably till it passed, then I would be OK again.
One of the hardest things I have found is being in a small town everyone knows you, everyone knows Dad. So people would come up and ask "how's Fay?" and I have to watch dad compose himself and tell them she's passed away. It's their reaction. You go through the emotion with them every time. Its awful. In the same breath, I don't think I have paid for a single drink yet. Mum would like that part.
Anxiety wise? I mean...! I've had panic attacks daily. Something that I have not experienced before. But I am also laughing at times, enjoying being back in Stamford as much as I can, coping I guess. We are back in limbo at the moment. We register her death tomorrow then we have an appointment with the funeral directors on Tuesday to discuss what happens next. Apparently the current wait time for the Crematorium is 3 weeks so we still aren't sure of a funeral date.
Back to waiting. Again. I am staying at my parents (dads now I guess) and Michael is back up in Leeds and I will be here until the funeral. Thank you for all your messages, thank you for checking in with me. The best thing you can do is send me Netflix/audible/book recommendations or pictures of dogs.
I don't know if I have mentioned this before but for the last few years I have been putting together a book. It is called (working title) The Anxious Girls Guide To Life. It touches on everything from moving house, therapy, getting married, travelling (not that far lol) to little things like nights out, Christmas and making friends. I didn't know how to finish it but I sadly have my final chapter now.
Something that I will talk about after the funeral is the care and service mum experienced for the last 18 months. She was a nurse, she worked for the NHS from the age of 18, she was 56 when she died, and when she needed them, they failed her. At every hurdle. As a family we are so angry and personally, when she is laid to rest, I will be shouting from the rooftops the lack of care and commitment she had from day dot. But that is for another time. For now I am conjuring happy memories and trying to decide what tattoo to get in honour of her (sorry mum but I did say I was getting one!!!).