She was a friend with whom I shared a lot, as we plodded around fields on the farm, metal detecting. She knew how excited I genuinely was when roses turned up from David Austin for my birthday. She was interested and interestingly, though the most self-effacing woman I knew. She could make me cry with laughter - the most important quality in a friend - and shudder with pain. Her powers of description were legendary. I shall miss her so.
I got the news whilst they were trying to get blood out of my port line. All the nurses had been asking how she was, after the epic bedside stint last week. They were upset and sympathetic. My dear friend, A, came into the hospital to have a coffee with me whilst I waited for the clot busting drug to work on the port line. We didn't cry but just talked about S and this and that. It was cathartic and comforting.
Although I have been expecting it for a long time and knew that it was imminent, S's death still came as a shock and I haven't quite taken it in. Last week, she was obviously so tired, in so much pain and a little woozy from all the drugs. It was sad. I'm glad I got to spend time with her and hold her hand. I'm glad that her whole family were with her at the end.
Her charm and exquisite manners made an impact on the ward. She was always trying not to "be a pain" and bore the monotony of 6 hours of blood transfusions with stoicism and grace.
I have to confess S's death has frightened me. We were diagnosed within a month of each other, first time round. It is due to her that I went to have that first lump checked out. There is a bond that only those who have the same disease can share and there was stuff we talked about that I would not want to share with anyone. Just as MF said in her blog, only people who have been through your experience can begin to share it. Facing mortality, whether assured or just lurking in the deep recesses of the 3 a.m. darkness, is something even your nearest and dearest cannot touch.
I feel bad because this should not be all about me. It should be about S.
The day was grey and drizzly and matched my mood. It was a long day and the nurses were really busy because of the Bank Holiday, with lots of extra people to fit in. By the time I left at 4, the Sister, C, still had not had time for lunch. I had been there since 9 am.
The stroppy woman in her lace-up boots who created a scene about her husband's chemo "being late" cheered us all up immensely. She instantly became an object of ridicule and scorn. They had been waiting for an hour and said things along the line of what was the point of making an appointment time if the hospital made no attempt to stick to it. There was a collective sigh from our end of Lazy Boys. She will have to learn patience. I suggested that the lovely receptionist J make an official complaint and I would support her. There is no room for selfishness and aggression in a chemo ward. We are all too busy trying to stay alive and encouraging those who need support. Her anger, which was obviously born out of fear, was misplaced, ill-judged and got her precisely nowhere. Her husband may be ill, with cancer. He may be the most important person in the world for her.
But for us, in that moment, we were all thinking about the one we lost today.