It’s been three weeks now since my husband Roger moved to our local hospice, and two weeks since I had my first overnight stay there.
I still haven’t got round to writing about how that went so I’ll tell you now – it was fab! So special to be able to spend some time together, just hanging out and chatting, having a drink (wine for me, tea for him) and watching a film. The staff at Wirral Hospice St John’s are amazing, so kind, ready to listen when we need to talk and happy to leave us together when we need time alone. Nothing’s too much trouble for them and in this awful situation it really does help.
We’ve had a difficult week, after Rog developed an infection and became quite poorly, I really thought his chances of making it home where dwindling and found that very hard to take in. To see someone you love in so much pain is heartbreaking, and although he’s still the same strong person he’s always been, to see what effect cancer can have on the body is horrific. One of the hardest things I’ve found to think about is the uncertainty of not knowing what’s coming next, how long we’ve got, or what to expect. When I spoke to his doctors about this they just advised to make the most of every day, as no one can predict what will happen in the future or how quickly he might deteriorate.
With this in mind, we’ve spent more time at the hospice together as a family, and I’ve been talking to our eldest about how poorly his dad is and how we all need to show him how much we love him. I’ve started a separate post about my experience of talking to him about what will eventually happen, but let’s just say when I collected him from the childminders’ yesterday he told me: “Mum, I told the teacher that daddy’s going to die.”
Ok. Deep breaths. Followed by: “She said I could choose a special book to take home and look at with daddy,” and a small smile and a hug which told me that made it a teensy bit better for him. These conversations are unthinkable to most people, and I can tell you they are still unthinkable for us even though we know we’re having to go through them.
It’s hard enough (impossible) for Rog and I to get our heads round, so God only knows how a six-year-old can be expected to process it. Plus, the unpredictability of Roger’s illness has meant his body has shaken off the infection and he feels better than he has in months. A few days ago, we walked together up the corridor of the hospice to the cafe, and sat and had a drink together, something that we haven’t done since Christmas. Yesterday, he tried walking up and down their stairs and managed it with limited problems. Today, he is coming home for the weekend.
Yes, the whole weekend, if he can manage it, will be spent in his own home enjoying a bit of normal family life. I’m so excited, I feel like I’ve been preparing for a five-star holiday! I’ve cleaned the house, stocked the fridge and bought treats for the kids to keep them entertained. Sam and Florence are looking forward to it too, with Sam having lined up an itinerary of activities for his dad to do (or watch, depending on how things go). These include playing with his Star Wars toys, reading his Oceans book, and recreating some Disney Collector videos in the kitchen (more on this later too, if you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically adult Americans playing with toys and putting it on YouTube).
There’ve been fresh questions like “so is daddy not going to die?” and “why can’t we just keep him here forever?” which take a bit more explaining, but for now, I’d better set off for the hospice, as our VIP needs a lift home.
Happy Bank Holiday everyone,
PS The photo shows Sam playing with his homemade bouncy eyeball!