Two months ago, we were on holiday on the Isle of Skye. I remember watching my partner climb the hills of the Faerie Glen with my 16-year-old and 12-year-old boys. I took a photograph from where I followed behind, thankful for the miracle that had given us this second, precious chance.
Tonight, I took my boys to visit their dad in hospital. He had oxygen tubes in his nose, a nebuliser on his mouth and cancer back in his lungs.
I am still trying to understand why and how things could have changed so much in just ten short weeks. Still trying to process how this makes him, my boys and myself feel.
Actually, that’s not true. I am not processing it. I am denying it. And this ‘post’, this ‘blog’, is a belated attempt to try and make myself accept where we are.
And where am I? Alone at home for the second night running, my Other Half (truly, my other, better half) is in a bleeping, vigilant but strange room, unable to go to the toilet without reducing his poor, coughing body to a painful rubble.
We cling to hope. He responded well to chemotherapy before, so we hope that the second line chemotherapy he started on Monday will also be effective. Most of all we pray that the biopsy will reveal he has the right genetic markers for some of the new gene therapies that are becoming increasingly available as clinical trials.
We hope. We pray. We wait.
And to be honest, I get a bit angry. We knew there was no cure; that his extraordinary response to chemotherapy would not last. But we did hope for longer than three months. Next week my 16-year-old son will have his first work experience in London and my partner was supposed to go with him for a much-deserved holiday. My lovely, self-effacing partner who gave up his job and fragile self-esteem to look after our boys whilst I swanned off to his favourite capital city to garner praise and promotion whilst he did the thankless tasks of parenting. And now my excited and anxious 16-year-old son is trying to buy his first suit without the help of his dad.
I don’t know what to say other than it breaks my heart. All of it.
And before you tell me I am brave, truly I am not. I am terrified. I have become a parody of myself: the hard-working mum who keeps it all together right before she snaps, refusing to cry in front of her boys lest once she starts she will not stop.
I don’t think of this as a battle or a fight with cancer, more of an ungainly run from its clutches. I keep thinking of the apocalyptic scene from the film DEEP IMPACT: all those families gathering their loved ones to them as they try to out run the disaster and make it to higher, safer ground.
We are literally running for our lives. So tonight, as my partner of twenty-six years lies alone in a hospital room, I am playing one of our favourite songs: Run, by Snow Patrol.
‘You’ve been the only thing that’s right In all I’ve done’