Sunday 11 March 2018

It was twenty (minus fifteen) years ago today…

Forgive The Beatles Sgt. Pepper reference, it came out of nowhere but just felt appropriate, so given the “occasion”, I’m sticking with it as this blogs title.

To be honest, I can’t really believe it’s been 5 years to the day since we all lost this amazing person I am so proud to be able to call my Sister. I guess it’s been pretty much a whirlwind since that snowy London day back in 2013. My previous blog posts on here have probably seemed to serve as a bit of an update on how we’ve been getting on as a family. It’s not been planned that way, but I guess I’ve felt the urge to let people know we’re ok once I’ve started typing. To be perfectly honest with you though, I don’t even know if the reality of the situation has fully sunk in for me yet, and maybe it never will, who knows.

My life has adapted to the shituation, as have the lives of anyone who was close to Lisa. The Lisa shaped whole in our lives is still there, and always will be. Even just typing this now, I’m getting an all too familiar and enormous sense of I CAN’T EFFING BELIEVE MY SISTER ISN’T HERE ANYMORE.

My memories of my Sister haven’t faded one bit, thankfully. I don’t ever want to forget all the amazing memories I have. Equally, I don’t want to forget all the painful memories either. I feel like I need the full picture to help me try to understand and appreciate what has happened. For example, one thing that won’t ever leave me was saying goodbye to Lisa for the last time, the day before she passed away. We’d made the call late that evening that I’d head back up to Derby to be able to see Leanne and Corey and get back to work the next day. We all knew the end was close, but there wasn’t any way of knowing if it would be 7 hours or 7 days. At the time of deciding to head home, saying goodbye didn’t seem like it was going to be the last time I’d see Lisa, as I just assumed that I’d get another call to drop everything again and drive back down to London. But, when giving her my kiss goodbye for the night, she gave me a look that only made sense the day after. It was a look as if to say she knew what was about to happen. It was a look of goodbye Arseface, but this is it mate.

On reflection, at that point, Lisa knew better than anybody when her time was going to come. This might sound daft, but as a result of that goodbye we had, to this day I remain convinced that Lisa planned that ending better than anything she planned before. I remain convinced, that me being there wasn’t part of her plan and instead wanted me to be with Leanne and Corey. I remain convinced, that she hung on an extra day to make sure she didn’t pass away on Mother’s Day. And more than anything, I remain convinced that she hung on overnight to let Pete, Mum and Dad get some rest in her room at Trinity before peacefully calling it a day at a sociable hour the next morning. Lisa barely ever did anything before 8am in the morning, and she damn sure wasn’t going to make an exception on her last day with us!

I appreciate openly reflecting on moments like this is somewhere I’ve not really gone before, either in person or in writing, but it is by far the most prominent and reoccurring of the painful memories. I don’t ever want to forget that look and that moment, no matter how painful it can be, because it summed up A) our relationship and B) Lisa as a person, better than anything I could imagine – both of which are the most comforting thoughts that I could ever ask for.

We all know how much I like talking about Lisa. What I don’t think everybody appreciates is how at ease I generally am talking about her and even losing her. I guess it could be a bit awkward for people meeting me and then later finding out from me that my Sister died some years back, or even for some people aware of the shituation when I’ve dropped Lisa into conversation with great ease. I get it that some people don’t know where to put themselves when they hear the words “my Sister” coming out of my mouth. But I tell you what, I bloody love it when people embrace the topic or even ask me a question about her. I imagine that this is some sort of coping mechanism or self-therapy kind of thing for me. I guess I’m just lucky that talking about her brings back great, comforting memories.

There are things I do struggle with if I’m being honest. I think I probably struggle with hearing the word Cancer in general. Even in the last few days I’ve been hearing on the Radio (5 Live) of 3 blogging ladies who all have Cancer, and the stories became all too familiar to the point I had to switch it off – I’m sure if I was talking to these ladies in person about Lisa though it might have been different, and even probably comforting for me! Same with things on TV (with The C Word being a notable exception!), if someone is suffering with Cancer either in reality or some sort of Soap etc., I’ll either switch over or leave the room and do something else. I don’t tend to get upset by it, maybe because I remove myself from the situation before reaching that point I guess. Another thing is that I have this almost constant yearning to know how things would be now if Lisa was still here, and it is fairly painful to realise that I’ll never actually know what things would be like now if she was still here – I can try to imagine, but that isn’t enough for me, I want to know.
I don’t know if these are normal thoughts and reactions, just like I don’t know if being able to talk so at ease about Lisa is normal, but I guess we’re all different and cope in different ways. It would be impossible to think or suggest that such a seismic life event as this wouldn’t have an impact on anybody. I have mates who have lost parents, relatives and friends way ahead of time and I’m always in awe of how these people cope whilst continuing to grow as individuals. I could never preach to anyone about how to deal with a crappy situation like this. I could and would offer support, but there’s never going to be a one size fits all text book about how to deal with a Shitstorm!
So, for me, it’s all about maintaining the memories and talking (either with or at people) openly about Lisa to continue to help me with our loss. We’re immensely lucky that the great memories are on tap for all of Lisa’s family and friends, and that there’s always someone not too far away that’s more than willing to share a story or two about her. Despite all the Bullshit that came with Lisa having The Bullshit, I can never underestimate how fortunate I am to have these memories and great people around us all – you know who you are!
In the grand scheme of things, 5 years isn’t really a long time, and as significant as it feels, there’ll be plenty more milestones such as today along the way. There’s plenty more missing to be done, reflecting to be done, talking to be done, and educating my kids about their awesome Auntie to be done. And if we could find a way to magic her back right now, I could guarantee there’s not one person that wouldn’t take, and benefit from that opportunity.

Until next time, people.
Big love,

Oh, wait, before you go… If you haven’t already, please take the time to sponsor Lisa’s good buddy, Katharine Busby. Busby is in the process of training for this year’s London Marathon, raising money for the awesome Trinity Hospice in Lisa’s memory. She’s a bloody thoughtful hero to do such a thing this year, and whatever you can do to support Busby would mean the World to us all. Just please follow the link below to find out more and donate whatever you can:


Lorri said...

Thank you for the update Jamie. Lisa's blog was the first I'd ever read and I found it very early on. Lisa's warm and humor shone through and I somehow felt like I knew her in real life. My sister had cancer at the time and it helped me see things from her perspective. Sadly I lost my sister 7 1/2 years ago. At times it feels like a lifetime since I last saw her and in others it feels like no time at all. You're right you get used to the shituation. It becomes the norm then always when I least expect it I feel engulfed with grief. Sometimes for a day, sometimes longer and sometimes it only lasts a minute. Anyway as I said thank you for the update. At times I 'be wondered how you, your parents, Pete and even Sgt Pepper are doing. Thinking of you all today. Xx

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a mum of two boys who was diagnosed with MS six years ago. I really only stumbled across The C Word when skimming through the TVs channels one night some years ago when I was at a really low point. Depression and pain had overtaken me and I could barely function as a mum or a wife. I was so moved by how Lisa coped through hard times and immediately bought the book. I started to see that I was not the only one who was going through a 'shitstorm'. I decided that if I could still eek out just a little bit of humour, as Lisa seemed to, then maybe things would be a bit better. Reading her book made a huge difference to how I have handled my illlness. If ever I am at rock bottom again I re-read and pull myself together. I can almost feel her give a kick up the arse and say 'where's your sense of humour?'
She must have been an awesome individual and I (and, I'm sure my boys and husband too) am just so grateful she wrote. 😀

Nicole said...

Don't know how I managed to miss this when you posted it but Simon told me about it the other day and I have been waiting for a quiet moment to read it. It's more beautiful than anything you've written before and that's saying something. It continues Lisa's legacy of writing about impossible things with such truth and humour and clarity. And she's laughing at me right now (approvingly, I'd like to think) for giving you comments on the writing but I can't help myself - I do love your writing. Please never stop posting. Think about your sis most days and imagine myself in communication with her so so often. Thank you for writing this. Much love to you and the fam. xxxx

Monica said...

Hi Jamie, I only learned about Lisa yesterday when watching The C-word. I lost a sister and a brother to cancer within 3 months of eachother. Lisa's story confronted me once more with the fact that uptil now I can only cope by hiding from the sad memories of their last months. But also by hiding from the multitude of good memories before and after they were diagnosed. Lisa made me cry for her and for a sister and brother I lost 9 years ago. It costs me to face and confront myself with how I deal with the loss. I don't want to go on without the good memories, so I will need to find a way to deal with the heartbreaking ones too. Lisa and you all still are doing a hell of a job. Thank you.

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