How do I work into a blog about my breast cancer and me the fact that my dad has just died? The only way, I’ve decided, is to come straight out and say it.
Because how else do I explain the fact that I’m up here in Glasgow less than a month after my operation (Saturday’s op – a daunting prospect but a key step on the road to wellness) when I really didn’t plan on moving very far at all from home in south London for a good six weeks?
I got a phone call at 5 o’clock on Sunday morning from the oldest of my five brothers saying my dad had died unexpectedly a couple of hours earlier.
That’s the dad who throughout my breast cancer ordeal asked questions about how I was really feeling that no-one else asked and that showed how much he cared and understood. That’s the dad who with my mum had phoned me every single day since my operation on 19 December to see how I was doing. That’s the dad who had recently taken to telling me he loved me at the end of every phone call. That’s the dad who again with my mum read my blog religiously and when I wrote about the bad days told me how sorry they were that I was suffering. That’s the dad who felt bad he wasn’t mobile enough to come down to London to be with me after my operation. And that’s the dad who was so, so grateful that I made it up to visit between one chemotherapy session and the next in September last year (It’s not all bad & Thanks, baby bro!) and then again before my final chemo session in November (I love Glasgow, but it’s not Geneva & 19 December – it’s official).
I declared myself fit enough to travel and took the train up to Glasgow on Monday afternoon, straight after my appointments at the clinic with the oncologist and the physiotherapist (A busy week with welcome news – “no mass identified” and “no further surgery necessary”). I’ve been here since, staying with my mum. Everyone is very conscious that I’m recovering from major surgery. Rather than me help look after my mum, she and I are being looked after in a sad but incredibly nurturing atmosphere by an army of carers comprising my brothers, sisters-in-law and an assortment of nieces and nephews.
Those two recent visits of mine were the last occasions my parents, brothers and I were all together. Over the past few days, we’ve wondered at the ironies of life and reflected upon the fact that these gatherings only happened because I had cancer. What’s lovely is that all of us – my dad very much included – appreciated at the time how fortunate we were to be together.
Later today I’ll head back home to London, where I’ll be until I come back up to Glasgow a few days before the funeral on 1 February. I’ll have been here these past few days for the saddest of reasons, but much as I’ve missed my three boys at home, I really couldn’t have been anywhere else.