Every day counts

A couple of week’s ago, Donna’s mum went into hospital with what appeared to be heart-related issues. She ended up having surgery. It seemed to go well initially before her mum began to struggle. She was rarely conscious and struggled for coherence when she was. Ultimately, she was put onto oxygen.

Throughout, Donna was worried, naturally. With lockdown, she couldn’t visit her mum as she would have normally, and she had the age-old problem of getting information out of the doctor. We were on the phone with each other every couple of days, and she was updating me by text whenever she could. Then, last Thursday night at 9.30, she received a message from the hospital saying she should come in.

Messages like that are ominous. It’s hard not to believe the worst. She sent me a message as soon as she got it, and I thought, as she did, that maybe it meant this was it.

Donnas’s mum is 83. At some point, it will be it, but she’s had a fair go. That doesn’t make it any easier. Losing your mum at any time is hard, and it will be particularly devastating for Donna. It will turn her life upside down and loosen the remaining family ties, I expect.

I won’t say this is a triggering event for me, but it certainly brings back memories of my mum and the loss I suffered. As we spoke, I would reflect on that, and Donna – fully conscious of my loss (she loved my mum) – would draw on that. This is something we could share.

It made me think about the stages of life we all go through. There’s a stage when all our friends are getting married. Then there’s the stage when they have their first child. After that, we go through the big anniversaries and milestones together – the 40th and 50th birthdays and the random momentous events outside of that. We’re at the stage now when our parents begin to pass away. Cheeseboy lost both of his in the last 9 months. Donna’s mum is ill now, and her father already gone.

This is something I thought about, feeling a little cheated. My mum, a healthy, energetic type who might have lived to a hundred otherwise, was instead denied life prematurely by the big C. I feel as if I was robbed of ten years at least – crucial years as it turns out, years that might otherwise have been filled with love and affection. But death is a part of life.

At some point, the stage will be when friends and acquaintances themselves begin the final stage of life. I remember my grandparents and how they would check out the death notices and obituaries in the newspaper every day. It seemed awfully morbid to me, but I imagine there must come a time when it becomes very relevant. They’ve long since gone. One day it will be my contemporaries. One day it may even be me.

In the meantime, Donna’s mum is hanging in there. She’ll be in hospital for a while, and there’s a chance she may not make out of there. She survived the latest crisis, though, and, last time I heard, was on the improve. I’m hoping for Donna, but I’ve heard the story before. A terminal relapse is not uncommon, but on the other side of that, she could live another ten years. Every day counts.

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