One week following Black Wednesday and life has become clearer to a certain extent, plans have been made for the near future and we were back in London for a “handover meeting ” with Julie’s consultant at the Royal Marsden, Charlotte Benson. “You’ve given it all you have got!” She tells Julie in her comforting bedside manner voice, this is a voice of genuine concern and humility because she feels that she has let down this patient. Charlotte also knows this won’t be the last time she feels this way because as a general in the army fighting cancer, she knows cancer is a formidable enemy and won’t give in lightly.
Strangely though after we’ve gone through and exhausted all questions I found myself thanking Charlotte for all she has done over the last year or so, after all it wasn’t her fault the cancer had been missed for two years by an incompetent consultant at our local hospital! No, the team at the Marsden worked hard to try and stem the advance of the cancerous devil. Enough said!
We had an early dinner at the hotel that evening because we had been treated to a visit to the theatre to watch The Lion King. While we were getting dressed to go out, Julie came out with another of her now common attacks on her disease. “This was the only f*****g dress this shitty piece of offal will let me get in to!” She said half to me but mainly to herself. “Don’t you worry sweetie, you look good whatever you wear” was my reply with a smile and off we went.
Once sat in the Theatre, I found myself sat with a little girl to my left. It turned out this was her first trip to see a show and she was absolutely captivated. The irony of this encounter wasn’t lost on me, to my left a little girl who was so excited and lucky to see the vibrancy on stage for the first time and to my right, Julie who had been on stage many times as well as in the audience, knowing she might not get to attend many more performances. The number being performed while these thoughts drifted through my mind? “The Circle of Life”…..
On the train journey back Julie announced, “I want a party!, it’s going to be my last birthday and I want a party!” “Ok” I reply, somehow knowing there was more to come. “When would you like it?” ” As soon as possible of course, and I’ve decided on a few other things as well!” She carried on looking out of the train window.
Once back at home our tribe start descending. Party was the word of that evening. The evening became night and the night became an impromptu family party, it was heart warming to be sat at the table in our garden watching Leah, Hannah and Nathan laughing and bantering the night away, a definite memory making moment of love and pride, knowing our three cubs had grown up into independent, hard working Lions and Lionesses. 🙂
One of our really good friends dropped by on the following Saturday to see Julie. “I’m going to have a party Mel and soon as possible” Julie explained. “Leave it to me and Michelle” We settled on a date, the 13th of June which was a week following Julie’s birthday then off tromped Mel to break ther news to our other friend, Michelle that she would be helping! We of course (that’ll be the Royal “We” i.e. me!) would be financing the bash. 🙂
During this period of time, between the beginning of June and the 13th, Nathan and I started to rearrange and generally re-model our garden, not because the party was to be held at home but because Julie wanted us to create a memorial garden for her, “somewhere for family and friends can come and sit and have a drink when I’m gone” she announced prior to the operation. Julie has a flair for design and Nathan has inherited it. Nathan and Julie, designed, Nathan and I did the heavy work and everyone had a good time spending on this creation. One end of the garden had become overgrown, we cleared it and laid down bark and gravel, we trimmed shrubs, and pulled weeds. Nathan decided a well was required, we built it, Nathan added blue l.e.d. lights, we installed a further water feature and solar powered lighting.
Julie came up with other little gems, such as the “Beach/sea” theme, “we do live by the sea” she told us. Over the last four weeks we’ve moved and added to our little garden, we’ve spent many of those nights sitting in the garden chatting, sometimes alone and sometimes with our family or friends who’ve dropped in. Either way the project has given Julie much pleasure. As for Julie’s Birthday party, that went without a hitch, Julie never got in until 3 in the morning, enjoying every minute in the company of family and a few friends, she couldn’t have everyone we know as friends because my budget couldn’t take anymore of a battering in June.
We’re now into July, how are things now? Well since that “Black Wednesday”, Nathan and I have tried to go for lunch with Julie every Friday. Leah and Hannah come in to see their Mum as often as their lives allow and I’ve been spending as much time as possible with Julie, only leaving her when absolutely neccessary. Her Meds have been modified during the last 24 hours to try to stem the pain but this, at the moment is fighting a losing battle. However, we remain hopeful, after all how much pain and for how long is a woman, even one as stong as Julie able to withstand the onslaught? To see the woman who you’ve known and loved for forty years crying in the middle of the night, not because she has life shortening cancer but due to the sheer physical pain she is having to endure hurts. Knowing there is nothing I can do except try and comfort her as she fights just isn’t enough! I want to take this vicious disease out of her body, punch it in the face and give it a bloody good kicking!!
Hopefully, the new Meds will kick in sooner rather than later.
Thanks for reading and keep your fingers crossed 🙂
To be continued…..