Hello and welcome to my second adventure.
I think I should really fill in the gap between my last adventure and the start of this one. It's been 14 months since I returned to the UK and a lot has happened and changed in my life since then.
I returned in November 2014, so that I could spend time with my family over Christmas. I could tell my mam was desperately missing me from the conversations we had on Skype and I hadn't seen them for over a year, Dani had returned as her career break from work had ended and it felt time to return. Not that I didn't want to keep going on my adventure but you do miss your loved ones when you are away for so long.
Christmas was good. Nice to have everyone together again for the first time in 18 months. Nice to have a Christmas dinner as well, a change from my staple diet of rice and noodles that I had become accustomed to.
With Christmas out of the way I started to look for work, funds for the next trip. Thankfully it didn't take long and although I had been offered better positions elsewhere I opted for a simple call centre job as an agent on the phones. Easy going enough and would still allow me to save fairly quickly to head back off again. We had originally penciled in May as a target for going away but that soon changed. After only 3 weeks in the call centre I was head hunted to do some consultancy work for an outsource company and at a rate I couldn't turn down. I was nervous having never done this line of work before but I dived straight in and left the call centre the following day to pursue a different direction and new challenge.
I really enjoyed it and surprisingly settled into it quickly. I worked between home and their office in Middlesborough and many nights coming home I would bump into my mam in Blandford street as she wandered the shops. It was nice to see her, to sit down and have a chat, nice little unexpected meetings. I remember very clearly several weeks into the job coming home and seeing my mam as I walked home from the train. We sat for 10 minutes chatting and then hurriedly I made my excuses as I desperately needed the toilet. I felt bad for my mam as I should have really walked her to the bus stop. She had her walking stick with her as always following her fall and hip replacement several years ago and I can vividly remember her face as I stood and left. She looked disappointed, almost upset but I couldn't hang on and had to go. That image still strikes a chord with me today. How I wished I had stayed with her and made sure she got her bus ok and said our goodbyes properly. The image of my mams face is as fresh now as it was when I was then.
It was a week later when I got a call from my sister to say that Mam had been taken into hospital following a doctors appointment. She sounded upset and I rushed to the hospital as quickly as I could. She had been taken in for an emergency scan following a persistent cough and unknown to me at the time serious weight loss over the past week. The following day mam returned to get the results and speak with a doctor. What started as a day case to get results turned into a five day stay as her weight loss was so dramatic she needed to be drip fed to give her some energy and nutrients. By the time she left she had been diagnosed with various growths in her pelvis, lungs and stomach. We returned in two days to find out that the biopsy results showed the growths to be cancerous. In just three weeks from when I last saw her walking around on her own in Blandford Street she had been told she had around 5 weeks left to live and did not have the strength to stand any more. The cancer was too wide spread for any treatment to be effective.
I can not begin to imagine how strong my mam must have been prior to Hospital to continue as she did with her daily routine. The pain she must have been in for months. Yet she did not complain once. We live in an age now where drama and exaggeration surrounds us, particularly in the realm of social networks. People are in "the worst pain ever..." or can't go to work for trivial reasons. My mam was from an age of more hardy folk. Folk who rolled their sleeves up and battled through a multitude of adversities. No internet or Facebook to seek pity or comfort or attention. I admire my mam for this and can only hope that some of her resilience and attitude is in me. At the same time I hate her resilience and stubbornness to simply carry on. An early diagnosis could have made the world of difference to her.
Mam didn't last the 5 weeks she was given. She made it through only 2 more weeks before eventually drifting off peacefully one morning in bed. Those two weeks are the most precious memorable weeks I have ever spent with my mam. As the rest of the family fussed around making her as comfortable as possible, sorting her medication and `doing the usual care that is involved with a cancer patient as you would do, I sat and talked with her, and talked and talked. Her energy was low but I would still get a smile, a glint in the eye and little whispers in my ear. We talked about life and what's important. Her thoughts and fears knowing that she was not far from the end of her time on this beautiful planet. I spoke of how seeing her like this encourages me even more to go and pursue my adventures and enjoy what makes me happy. I told her how beautiful she is, how much I deeply love her and above all how much I would dearly miss her.
What pained me the most was seeing my dad lose his sweetheart and companion of more than 50 years, I can not imagine how much pain that brings. Seeing the pain and heartbreak in my mams eyes as she knew she was losing her family and there was nothing she could do. Our family is everything.
I miss you mam so much, every day you are with me and in my thoughts.
This trip is for you.
I love you x
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Sunderland, England, United Kingdom