I decided quite a while ago that I wanted to write a post about something which is very hard to talk about at this time of year but which has such a huge impact on many of my friends and family and probably yours as well. Warning, then this will be abit emotional and if you have gone through a recent bereavement you may not want to read any further.
So this blogpost is about the sadness which many of us experience around Christmas as well as the joy. This was brought home to me personally especially this week, when I found out my best friend's mum was dying, that a relative who I hadnt been in touch with for some time had lost her father in the summer and that my god daughter's parents had seperated and are going through a court battle at the moment. It reminded of the hardships we face as human beings and that for many of us Christmas can be bittersweet.
I have wanted to tell my personal story for along time but I feel this year is the right time. It all began in 1985 January when I was a student nurse on my second ward. It was a haematology ward, ie blood conditions, and dealt primarily with patients who had differing forms of leukaemia. I had seen one young patient die on my first ward, but the young person I am going to tell you about has stayed with me to this day. He was younger than me and was a champion athlete when he was diagnosed. He came into the ward for treatment and I spent a bit of time with him but it was after I left the ward we became friends.
I remember the day very well. I was working on the orthopaedic ward by then and I was walking back from theatres after taking a patient down, when a trolley went past, I think I heard my name but I didnt immediately recognise the person cos he was bald. But what I do remember is his saying ''I know that nurse''. As I walked back to the ward, it suddenly pinged in my head who it was and so after my shift I went round to visit him. He'd had a Hickman line inserted and was awaiting further chemotherapy. That was the start of a friendship which even though it was brief has stayed with me over the last 25 years or so. We would listen to music, Jon and Vangelis as I remember, watch The Young Ones and talk about life, the universe and everything. I remember the last visit I made which must have been Christmas time 2006. He was looking tired but nothing he couldnt handle he said.
I found out that he had died in the worst way I can imagine, we were on study weeks in block and were discussing euthanasia of all things and a couple of my fellow students mentioned his name. I asked them what they meant and they explained he had died in pain. I was beside myself, in those days we werent meant to show emotion about our patients, it wasnt the done thing, but I had lost a friend.
I didnt really have a chance to contact his family as in those days going to the funerals of patients wasnt common either so it wasnt until 1987 that I met his mother again for the last time. It was December 22nd 1987 and I was taking another patient up in the lift to theatres, when a lady walked in whom I recognised as his mum. She also recognised me and we had a brief chat. She explained she was visiting the old ward in memory of him as it was a year since he had died. I told her how sad I was and gave her my very belated condolences. Since that day, I have thought about him often and even though it was a long time ago I shed a few tears and light a candle on the 22nd.
Tonight, I am also thinking about my friends and family who are going through this experience themselves, and I send them my love and also to those of you reading who need support and love. I pray their Christmases will have both joy and peace.
I will finish this with a sad event which happened while I was writing, my dear friend has just phoned me to tell me her mother died this evening so I will keep her and her family in my thoughts and prayers now and over the coming days and weeks as they grieve for a much loved mother, wife and nanny.