How vivid are your memories? Do some seem to fade over time and some seem to gain clarity as time moves forward?
Can you remember what you were doing 7 years ago? I can remember because it was the day that changed my life forever.
The memory hasn’t faded or become more vivid because it couldn’t. It is a memory seared into my soul; a memory that I will never forgot because of its horror, its devastation and its tenderness.
I got up on the morning of the 13th May, with a thumping headache and heavy heart, I rang a taxi and went to collect Seth’s car from the car park at the A and E department of the local hospital. On the way back home, I couldn’t shake a feeling of impending doom, of knowing deep in my heart that this day would be a day of grave consequences, but holding onto the hope that I was wrong.
Despite that feeling I drove home parked Seth’s car, got into my car and went off to work. I called into the office to collect some material and then headed to a local hotel for a workshop. The sun was shining brightly but the spring air was cool, cool enough to send a shiver down my spine.
I remember getting up to present our work to the assembled workshop audience I was outwardly in control, measured and confident but inside I was a mess of emotions and dread
I remember lunch in the restaurant and sitting by an open fire embracing the warmth because I felt cold, so very cold that it felt like I would never be warm again.
After lunch I left to go and visit Seth at the hospital.
He had been admitted the previous night, I had left Seth in the early hours of the morning in a medical assessment unit with a distended abdomen and the hope that the scan scheduled for the morning would not reveal anything sinister.
When I arrived at the hospital, he was in a side room, this made me suspicious, but he had been for a scan and we spent some time together getting him washed and dressed in this own clothes. I arrived at 2pm and left 4pm and told Seth I would be back at 6pm for evening visiting.
I went home had some food, got changed and headed back to the hospital.
Back on the ward, I opened the door to the side room and instinctively sensed all was not well, there was a strange atmosphere in the room, as Seth sat on the edge of his bed with back to me.
I went in and he just told very matter of factly, that the surgeon had been to see him and that scan had shown a growth in the tail of the pancreas, that it was cancer and that he had days or at best weeks to live.
He thanked me for the life we had together and the for the times we had experienced. Then asked me to promise I would make the most of my life after he had died, we made a vow that we would be honest with each other in the coming days. We verbalised our undying love for each other and then we just held each other.
Those moments and the exact words are etched into mind and my heart forever, heart-breaking, precious and inconceivable
I left the small side room at 8.15pm knowing that my life was forever changed.Tears streamed down my face, I got into my car and exhaled an animalistic scream then repeatedly punched the steering wheel, I don’t know how long I was there screaming, punching and crying but somehow, someway I managed to drive home.
Seth had asked me not to let anyone in the family know of his diagnosis; as his nephew’s birthday was a few days later and he didn’t want to spoil the celebration. So, when I got home, I didn’t know what to do having no one to talk to.
I phoned the Samaritans and incoherently tried to tell them through my sobs and tears what had happened. I don’t know how long I was on the phone, but they listened to me and told me they would phone me the following night to check on me.
At some point before collapsing in bed in a pile of incoherence I wrote in a new notebook the following
Tuesday 13th May 2014
How do you describe the day that your world falls apart? It’s the day that we all want to avoid, the day when you or your close family member is told you have incurable cancer.
At that moment your life flashes before you, you feel physically sick and you don’t want to believe what you know is true . You watch your beloved Seth be as vulnerable as anyone can and hear him thank you for the life and the time that you have spent together.
You hear him ask you to promise to make the most of your life when you are without him. You see true love in that face, along with admiration and warmth in those words. You reminisce about times gone by and mourn the time and trips you know that you won’t be able to take. You vow that you will both be honest with each other and commit that the love you show each other each day will continue throughout your limited time together.
You hug, you cry, you deny, you ache, you comfort, you support and commit to facing the future together and you vow that the only thing that is important is the quality of your time together.
You walk away with your whole world ripped apart; you feel the depth of the sheer despair and the aching unbearable pain of losing your whole world. You scream, you howl, you sob, you weep, you grieve, you are angry, you are grateful but most of all you are frightened.
These words would become part of Seth’s Story Homeward Bound.
The 13th of May is vividly etched into my soul forever and now 7 years later for the 7th time I will start a cycle of reliving the horror of the 33 days from Seth’s diagnosis to his death.
Seth, I will love you with all of my heart forever.