A long pause between posts this time. Last week was so full of family life, that I didn’t find the energy to write. I prefer to formulate each post in one sitting if possible, rather than adding snippets here and there. Writing helps me lighten the load I’m carrying, and sometimes I don’t know what direction my thoughts are going to flow in when I start writing, but I always feel better after releasing them. Some posts tumble out of my mind without much thought and others take a little longer to take shape. Usually it’s the emotive writing which spills out more easily, but it’s important to me that I chronicle our journey honestly, and that means the highs, lows and everything else in between.
In some ways, last week was our most normal week yet. Although it has to be said that I’ve lost all sense of what normal is, as it’s now become a rapidly moving target. More than ever, I’m aware that there is no normal so attempts to replicate it are futile! Taking each day as it comes continues to be the best advice we’ve been given. A big part of this is to keep trying, and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll change things and try again a different day or a different way.
With that in mind, Graham returned to work for the first time last week after almost two months. On reduced hours to begin with, we are taking things slowly and attempting to find a new rhythm which works for all of us. Note the use of the word rhythm there, I prefer it so much to routine. To me a routine is severe, rigid and unmovable, whereas rhythm supports the notion of a pattern of things that usually happen, with the ability to adapt and move as needed. I’d say we’ve always been more about rhythm than routine, but now the distinction is even more apparent.
Like most parents, we follow a similar pattern each day and certain things like dinner, bath and bedtime happen at a similar time, with a similar course of action. Some days it all goes out of the window however, for better or worse. Friday night was one of the most hilarious bedtimes we’ve ever had, with both girls in a playful mood. Trying to read ‘Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’ to Poppy while Daisy blew surprise raspberries on my knee is up there with some of my all time favourite moments. There is sheer joy in spending time with the ones you love, without being bound to a clock, or a routine or any expectations.
With Graham back at work, us girls had some firsts too…our first morning for a long time at home with both girls on my own. It didn’t start well. They both woke early and as a result, at least one of them was in tears for the first two hours of the day. I nearly asked Graham to come home. Thankfully, once the tired tears had subsided (and the cavalry arrived to help in the afternoon!) the day got much better. The girls played happily together in the garden in the sunshine and the world seemed a little less wonky again.
I also had my first solo trip to theatre with Poppy. There have been a couple of unplanned admissions to hospital when we’ve come alone to allow Graham to stay at home with Daisy, but this was the first time without his hand to hold during the wait for Poppy to wake up. Holding Poppy in my arms as she wilts from the general anaesthetic and then leaving her in the theatre is still the part of this I find the very hardest. I kiss her and tell her I love her every time before leaving the room but it never gets any easier. So often, her first word upon waking is “Mummy”and it hurts that I’m not there by her side when she wakes. We’re getting to know the recovery nurses by name and they are wonderful human beings. Two weeks ago, when we were told we could go back in to see Poppy, I walked in to find her being gently rocked in the arms of the nurse, as she softly sang to her. I know she’s in safe hands. They bend the rules for the oncology children and allow them to eat in the recovery room, rather than waiting to go back to the ward, believing that they go through so much already and deserve the odd perk. The banana we sneak in transforms Poppy and it’s such a relief to see her eating and smiling again.
Another first was a conversation with some of the other parents on the Emily Kent unit. We don’t actually see much of each other, as the private rooms have most things we need, but we do cross over occasionally making tea or coffee in the parents kitchen. I find I’m able to share Poppy’s story now and listen intently to the stories of the other children too, in a way I couldn’t contemplate several weeks ago. It’s reassuring to talk to other people who understand our situation from their own similar experience without the need for much explanation. Perhaps it’s time to start exploring the other resources which are available locally.
A well-timed first for us this week was the provision of our evening meal by Little Bundles. A Fairford institution, LB cook for local families in need, usually new parents who are time-poor upon bringing home their own little bundle. This is actually the second time Little Bundles have cooked for us, having provided meals for our family when Daisy was born. It means so much to have home-cooked, nourishing food delivered to our doorstep, at a time when we most need it. There is so much love wrapped up in those little bundles of food, so thoughtfully prepared and generously given. It’s a great comfort to return home from a long day at hospital to find dinner ready to eat, without needing to give it any thought. The ultimate gift of time, not only on the day itself, but also as one less meal to consider when preparing our list for the supermarket shop. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone at Little Bundles for looking after our family again; we hope to return the kindness and cook for others in need when we can.
In between visits to Barnsley Garden Festival and the local school fete, this weekend should have been our first Parkrun with the double buggy. Unthinkable to me, when we first discussed buying it, Graham had noted it as a possibility to file away for later. At the time, Poppy was wary of even the tiniest of bumps in her stroller and it seemed inconceivable that she would recover enough to enjoy a trip out running any time soon. However, we were taking a midweek, late afternoon stroll around Cirencester when Poppy asked her Daddy to “go faster, faster!” so the decision was made to give it a try. With the sunshine continuing, we made our way to Lydiard Park on Saturday morning, only to find our plans foiled by the large Race for Life banners lining the usual Parkrun route. Undoubtedly a worthy cause, the banners unleashed a strange mix of emotions. Guilt at not knowing the event was taking place, disappointment at not being able to run after all and the downright flood of sadness at seeing the individual “I run for…” messages and realising just how many lives cancer touches. We couldn’t help feeling that despite Poppy feeling well, our morning had still been ruined by cancer! It’s the unprepared moments when it hits the most. The rare times I’ve almost forgotten what we’re dealing with, only to be reminded of it in a way we have no control over.
Thank you for patiently awaiting our update this week. I’d usually apologise, but I know that’ll sound ridiculous, so I won’t. I’ve always loved words, but lately I’ve found more significance in choosing the right ones. All week, I’ve noticed how often people apologise for little things, when sorry isn’t their intention. Nipping past people with the double buggy with a gentle “Excuse me” or “Please can I squeeze past you?”, I don’t need an apology in response. What are you sorry for? A smile and an “Of course you can!” would be much more appropriate. Save sorry for when you really mean it. It carries much more feeling that way.
I don’t actually think about anyone reading this when I’m writing, though I know from the wordpress stats that you’re there in all sorts of countries all over the world. Most I can piece together from family friends or those taking holidays abroad, but some remain a mystery…I’d love to know who was reading from Japan yesterday! x