In the end, it was being with other people that helped.
Not that they knew.
Why should they? Why should I burden strangers with the knowledge.
I had worried about being so far away when Mum heard but now her treatment is decided. The colorectal cancer is in a place where the only solution is radical resectioning and the creation of a permanent stoma.
She hasn’t had a chance to ask more detailed questions. But will when she sees the Consultant on Tuesday.
There may be chemotherapy after the surgery. She knows that much. And we sat – after a relaxed and lovely lunch today – and thought about what else she needs to ask – about what she needs or wants to know.
My Mother is inspiring. The clear-sighted determination with which she approaches this. The calm insight.
I, on the other hand, have been a disgrace. A weltering bubbling mess of howling anger and pain and fear barely held back and threatening – at grossly insignificant and banal moments – to overwhelm.
I am become a small sobbing and frightened child again. Lost. Calling for a mother I fear is gone.
I need to get a grip.
My Mother – like her old Grandpa all those years ago – maybe as many as 100 years ago in fact – will survive. Will continue. Will endure.
She’s going nowhere. None of us are letting her go.
Oh! Days can be so rich and full. Life presenting as a torrent of words and ideas, overwhelming and uplifting and demanding some particular and special record of their own.
Work took me to Malta this week – and a meeting of trade unionists from across the EU and beyond. Active translations from English, Russian, Italian and French for 30+ different nationalities.
People are amazing. They really are. Raising one another up. Just by sharing; by being in the same space and taking the time to understand.
And there are so many strong wise folk. So many trying – against very difficult odds – to make things better. To raise up their fellow citizens and workers. To make a world that is fair; fighting for balance and equality where there’s too often indifference or intolerance or cruelty.
And it’s the small things that bring us together. The glimpsed picture of a new kitten on a phone cover. Admiration for a piece of jewellery or a pair of beautiful Italian boots or the book they’ve helped author. Laughter over a dropped cigarette. Sharing stories. Letting people into your life. Giving them a window to your world. Telling them what matters to you. Sharing photos of cats and kids and homes.
And then – if you’re lucky – finding yourself – and this is the most precious of things – being trusted with their stories; being allowed into their lives.
Yes, we all worked hard and the formal matters were conducted with tremendous grace and professionalism – and were progressed.
But it wasn’t the formal business, after all, that made this 3 day meeting a success.
It was the laughter shared during cigarette breaks and lunches and over coffee. The care, attention and very great effort taken to understand one another. The respect shown. The friendship extended. The smiles shared.
So many good people in the world.
I met a few this week.
How privileged I was. How privileged I am.