New Seasons and Sick Bowls.

I fucking hate spring. I used to love it. The joy of a new season. The green shoots. The blossom. Daffodils. New life. 

The last few springs have brought new life for our family, but not the one we wanted. In spring, they told my husband that he had a very difficult cancer to cure, but they were going to try. The following spring, they told us he was terminal. The spring after that, he died. Every spring, we’ve walked out of hospital grounds, as daffodils poked through the earth, feeling as though our own earth had been shattered. Spring hasn’t shown us its beauty for years.

This spring, the same pattern begins for me, but most probably with a more positive outcome. I’ll see next spring, and several after that. This spring marks almost a whole year without my husband, and I’m trying to make sense of this first, but surrounded by the same ingredients which took him away from us forever. Ingredients I never thought I’d associate with myself, or with any kind of future, come to that. But in an unusual twist of fate; without them, I may not have one at all.

Sickbowls. Hair clippers. Ondansetron. Epirubicin. Daffodils. Cyclophosphamide. Aprepitant. Palmar Plantar. Metoclopramide. Cannula. Mouth like the bottom of a bastard birdcage. Docetaxel. Constifuckingpation. Flowers. So many beautiful fucking flowers.

Side effects I’d forgotten my husband had had, are now mine. Side effects I’d wanted to forget – because, you know, it was too much to watch from the sidelines – are back in our home in full force. In fact, I think it’s easier for me now than it was then, because I understand it all so much better, and at least I don’t need anyone to hold my hair back when I’m throwing up in the night. I haven’t got any. (Although I still seem to need to shave my bloody legs. Where’s the actual justice?)

Yes, spring is a new beginning, alright. Every year, the start of a new life. A different life. I’ve always been one to embrace change with open arms, but – for fuck’s sake.

My husband and I had a fairly significant age gap, which was rarely a problem because we fell in love with each other’s minds, and the occasional discrepancy in physical stamina was our only real issue. But it did mean that, from an early stage in our relationship, we’d accepted the fact that – should life run its natural course for both of us – I would be left on my own for quite some time. There was never any question, at all, that my husband wanted me to move on, should he die first, and I felt the same about him, should I die early. You know, from cancer or something. We loved each other too much to wish lonely widowhood on the other, although we did often recognise the disappointment that neither of us had had the foresight to marry an octogenarian multimillionaire with a heart condition, instead of the skint and scruffy person we’d actually fallen in love with, 25 years out of sync. (But that was the point. We were in it for love. Nothing more.)

Telling the person you love that you want them to move on, should you die, is easy. It’s actually quite heartwarming, when you’re sitting in the garden, or on a hotel balcony, chatting over a glass of wine, and talking of an imaginary scenario years into the future. You know, when you’re not actually dying. When you’re completely full of life.

When that prospect becomes reality, it is heartbreaking. My husband held my hand, in his final days, in the makeshift hospice of our sitting room, and asked me to see his death as a new beginning. His beautiful blue eyes looked into mine, and he told me he loved me; that he always had, and that he’d be up there, sitting on his cloud, strumming his harp, watching us move forward, with love. He didn’t want to be missing from our future family portraits any more than we wanted him to be, but grudgingly accepted his time to go. All he asked was that, whoever it was, any future husband would be kind to his darling boys. That was a given, though I couldn’t picture a future husband at all.

I can’t imagine being with anyone else. Perhaps, under normal, non-cancerous circumstances, I might have been thinking about a different future by now, as the seeds of new life grow outside our window, because the lack of adult companionship, day in, day out, can be lonely and isolating. Especially now. But in my heart, I’m still married to my husband, and still faithful. Our bedroom hasn’t changed at all – except for the thermometer which has moved from his side of the bed to mine, with the Chemotherapy Hotline number still inscribed upon it in my husband’s hand. He and I are inextricably bound to each other by our children, who fear for a future without their last surviving parent. We’re still bound by those memories of a cycle of treatment which goes on and on. And on. And on. In some ways, these memories help my husband to hold my hand through it all, in the only way he can; from his celestial cloud (with the other hand strumming his harp.) Nobody else could take his place, because this is his place. He holds me through the treatment in my veins. The pills I take every day. The hair falling onto the sheets. The blossom falling from the tree.

He is still with us. Our hopes and our new beginnings are not what we ever imagined them to be, but he is still a part of them. Every spring, and always.

Love Fanny x

With every new spring, new sickbowls appear…

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9 thoughts on “New Seasons and Sick Bowls.

  1. Katherine says:

    I think of you often and am routing for you and your boys, and your husband, coz as you say he is still with you.
    Keep strong lovely lady. Much love.xxx

  2. MissRich says:

    Ahh curse you Hamilton, you have me cry, again! You write wonderfully. Matt and I often talk about ‘what we wish for the other should one of us die’. Because of my continuous bad health, one assumes it may be me first, and selfishly and jealously I have told him I should haunt him if he remarried! ( I know, I’m ridiculous!) he-10 years younger, but very much the Grown up in our relationship) has told me he would want me to find love/ish again. When all I’d want to
    Do is die. Rather than face a future filled with aching loneliness and increasing ill health and loss of mobility. I really admire you. You must have your awful , despairing moments. It must be so difficult being brave for your boys when you are facing everything without your love by your side. Kudos to you, you big grown up:) Xx

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      Thank you so much, Miss Rich! You never know what’s around the corner (as awful as that cliché is) but I think – should the worst happen – that Matt will always think of what you wanted, smile at the fact you were so bloody awful about it, and do whatever he needed to get him through anyway. As, I’m sure, would you. 🙂 I do have my awful and despairing moments, but – as we knew there would be – there’s always something to smile about every day. It sometimes just takes a while to find what it is. Lots and lots of love, good health, and ass-kicky vibes to you. xxx

  3. naturebackin says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It made me cry too. You and your boys and your mom are often in my thoughts. I found your blog via your mom Margaret’s blog. Perhaps it is presumptuous to say that after reading this post, I found I had a couplet from Paul McCartney/Beatles repeating in my head. I know its cheesy, but somehow apt. “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make”. I am glad that you can take your husband’s love with you as you go on through it all.

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      Thank you – I love that, and it’s so true. It’s good to have you here. I wasn’t going to tell my mum about my blog because she doesn’t know I swear this much (actually, she does) but she’s turned out to be one of my biggest fans! Bless her. All best wishes to you, too. x

      • naturebackin says:

        Thanks for the good wishes. Here in South Africa we tend to say mom rather than mum (which my British mom/mum hates). Anyway, your mum/mom sounds great.
        Hoping your next chemo treatment has fewer adverse effects.

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