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Three years, thirty three days – Love and Loss

Jun 13, 2017Blog0 comments

The significance of the number thirty three it is

  1. the name of a Nigerian beer
  2. the number of prayer beads used in Islam
  3. the speed at which LP records played
  4. the number of vertebrae in a human spine 
  5. the international dialling code for France
  6. or the atomic number of arsenic.

The number thirty three was to become of major significance to me in the 49th year of my life because it was the number of days that it took for the love of my life, my reason for living, to succumb to pancreatic cancer a most insidious disease. Pancreatic Cancer that took away all our forevers.

A picture of Seth and Lesley Goodburn at thier Wedding in December 2004

Seth and Lesley Goodburn Wedding December 2004.

The number thirty three was to become of major significance to me in the 49th year of my life because it was the number of days that it took for the love of my life, my reason for living, to succumb to pancreatic cancer a most insidious disease. Pancreatic Cancer that took away all our forevers.

For thirty three short and heart-breaking days in May and June 2014 I understood the utter terror of knowing that the person I loved with my heart was going to die, I understood the selflessness with which Seth spent his last days always making sure that I was supported and cared for. Seth approached his death as he did his life in a quiet and unassuming way which was hugely significant to all those who loved him and all those who had a special place in his life. Seth did not ask why me? Why us? Instead he reflected Why not me? Why not us? What’s so special about us to think we wouldn’t be affected by cancer, by pancreatic cancer.

What was so special about us was that we loved each other, we knew each other so well that often words weren’t needed, we just knew, we adored spending time together, we relished our holidays and our travels, we worked together as team, we wound each other up, we wound other people up, we were a double act, a comedy duo, with our own version of our own perfect couple.

In 2014 we had everything to look forward to, our 50th birthdays with our trip of a lifetime to China, our 10th wedding anniversary, our future plans for travel, exploring all the places we had on our holiday travel list, days in our future spent mowing the grass and pottering in the garden, decorating the house, going to the cinema, weekends away, meals in restaurants, just sitting together and watching TV…..  Our whole life together stretching out before us. Or so we thought.

Then the world turned black, pancreatic cancer shook our world, turned off the lights and turned our happy, fulfilled life full of future aspirations into a tiny world of illness, palliative care and clinical interventions. Our world was paralysed by the petrifying and inconceivable prospect that Seth was dying and we heard time tick away so deafeningly loudly.  This added to the inconceivably devastating prospect for me of watching Seth die too young, too soon and then having to live my life without him. How could that happen? How could I go on without Seth? What would be the point?

After Seth died I was paralysed by grief, I was numb, I couldn’t function, sitting for hours on the top step of the stairs unable to move rooted to the spot by grief. Being too grief stricken to make it round the supermarket, not wanting to leave the house, hiding away from people, not wanting to talk to them, seeing people not knowing what to say to me, sensing their discomfort and embarrassment,  feeling so hurt, so lost, so frightened, so powerless.

It would have been so easy to stay in that lost place but Seth was always with me and promises I made to him were never far away. So I decided to share our story of those thirty three short and heart-breaking days, I wrote some letters which I  shared with local healthcare professionals thinking that I could use Seth’s and my experience to help others, but nothing changed. I started to raise funds, to raise £1k for each year of Seth’s life so that Pancreatic Cancer UK might use the funds to help others in Seth’s name. Determined to share our story always with Seth’s voice and my promises to him echoing in my head I managed to get our story turned into the play Homeward Bound, I went to China to trek the Great Wall the trip that I should have made with Seth and raised money towards Seth’s £49,000 fund. Emma Bridgewater mugs followed, Purple Rainbow Ball, Flashmob, charity events and support from both Seth’s and my friends. Making new friends along the way, finding a reason to go on and make difference but always in partnership with Seth with his love, spirit and humour driving me on.

Lesley GoodburnHomeward Bound is now a play, a film and an educational package we are half way towards the £49,000 total I am involved in work that makes a difference to people affected by pancreatic cancer and I am helping to make a difference to end of life care. I am doing this to honour the man I loved, a man who was kind, loving, curious, vibrant and innately funny. A man called Seth Goodburn .

Today is the 14th June 2017 an unremarkable day, for years the 14th June passed by with no significance just another day, until I reached my 49th year and the 14th June became hugely significant.

 The 14th June was the 33rd day of a journey through pancreatic cancer, it was my last day with Seth, my last chance to hear his voice, to hear him breathe, to share a joke, a laugh, the last time I held his warm and reassuring hand,  the day I had to say goodbye to the man who was my world.

Today is the third time that 14th June has had such huge significance made all the more poignant by the work that I have done in Seth’s name at his request, creating Seth’s legacy. He wanted me  to do as he always did which was to help others and he  loved the Maya Angelou quote “Always try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud “ that’s where Purple Rainbow got its name.

Seth Goodburn (October 1964 – June 2014)Today I remember Seth as I do every day, every day without you Seth is a day I yearn to see your face and hear your voice, every day without you has a deep sadness and an emptiness, an emptiness that never goes away. Every day is beautiful and full of potential, potential that I know you wanted me to embrace without you,  some days that is easy other days it is almost impossible. Seth thank you for teaching me so much … I will love you with all of my heart forever….