It’s one of those mornings where my sleep has been broken and I’m finally thinking about going back to bed. But before I do there are some things I needed to get down on paper and clear up in my mind.
There is a family friend, one who has been in my life in some form or other since before I was born. He and his wife are almost akin to sister and brother to my own parents, though there are no blood ties between them. They grew up together, shared their teenage years together, even went on honey moon together. (no not like that, mind out of the gutter please)
This couple never looked down on my parents, or family, when money was tight for us, when Dad wasn’t working due to the lay offs of the 80’s, or when they moved into better housing and started to enjoy a comfortable life. They took pains to never make my parents feel left behind, nor to treat them as poor relations. Basically the money simply didn’t matter, nor did the distance when they moved 200 miles or so away for his job.
It is fair to say that this man is my father’s dearest and perhaps only true friend, for my father is a man who makes surface friends easily but there are few he would step in front of a bullet for, and that is the level of bond I see between them.
Yet something has happened that my father can do nothing to stop. He cannot take the bullet for this one found it’s way into his friends flesh many years ago. He cannot ignore what is happening, nor can he do anything to ease what will be. For the first time in some twenty years or so (dating back to a time prior to the Falklands War) I see my Dad, and through him my Mum, struggling with a helplessness.
Their friend, my uncle, is dying of cancer.
There is no hope in this save that he passes with as little pain possible.
There is no way of easing the grief that tears into them both not only for the loss of their friend that they will soon face, but for the way that loss will also affect his wife.
There are no treatments, no pills, no magic cure lingering in the shadows that will make it all go away.
There is only time, knowing that it will be short, knowing that it will end and knowing an utter helplessness to prevent it.
So I sit here, at 7am in the morning, wondering what will happen when the news comes that their friend has passed away. Wondering what I can do to ease their hurt and knowing that whatever I come up with it will not be enough.
Then there is the fear. The knowledge that my parents are the same age, that if it’s not cancer it will be something else that takes them from me. Selfish I know. But I’m human and I cannot, for now, silence the small voice whispering the hateful what ifs in the quiet moments of my day.
So I send emails back, small snippets of news, jokes, something, anything, hoping it will distract them if only for a short while from what is going on. It’s all I can do…