Cuddles, cards and cut flowers

hug5Apologies for my absence yesterday but I thought to myself that you probably don’t want me ramming my current status down your necks every five minutes (even though you do have a choice whether you want to read this blog or not) and so like a Kit Kat I took a break.

Much of my break was spent supervising flower arranging from a distance, which is tremendously difficult without the proper names of things or a natural artistic tilt and so it went a bit like this:

‘No, could you move the green stemmed one over to the side, next to the edge of the vase and then fluff up the white things in the centre so it’s looking more contemporary?’ You get the gist. Flower Arranging for Dummies currently on order from Amazon. To be fair Steve did his best until Faye arrived and quickly fluffed the white things up in the right places and all was well. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to work in a florists and these last few days have provided a wonderful insight into that fantasy. It’s lovely and fragrant.

I’m surrounded by flowers, cards, choccies and other such thoughtful gifts that it’s quite overwhelming and heart-warming. Thank you all, each and every one means a great deal.

We also have quite a stack of sympathy cards from family and friends expressing their condolences about my Father in Laws’ sudden passing last Sunday and each one reminds us of people’s kindness and that we’re in their thoughts. That matters.

One thing that has really struck me since my diagnosis has been people’s reactions to our news. Of course they range from shock (e.g. ‘Bloody hell I wasn’t expecting that’- well no quite frankly, neither was I but here we are), pragmatic (‘What can we do?’), practical (‘I’m available on Tuesdays to taxi you to Oxford for your radiotherapy’) to sympathy (‘Of course, my Aunt Mable had it 8 times and studied for her Law degree at the same time’ type response).

You learn quite quickly that these responses are more about the person delivering them coping with their reaction rather than as a conscious intention to put me at ease. It’s not that they don’t intend to do that, but as you start to become more experienced at this you notice a pattern emerging. Many people have shared their own positive stories or second hand successes against Cancer and I know that this is in an effort to flag up that it’s curable, beatable and there’s no need to feel despondent. Some of these stories have been from lovely people who’ve stepped this way before me and I am so moved by their almost instantaneous response to reach out to me and offer informed reflections, paced alongside my ability to digest them. Each person who has emailed or phoned or messaged me has without exception said ‘When you’re ready to know more let me know’. Cystarhood indeed.

I guess inevitably the fact that some people don’t connect with us again following the news is also about their ability to face less than comfortable situations and I don’t blame them; let’s face it we’ve all diverted a less than palatable conversation in our lives and it takes something like our current context to flag up who that might be. It always makes me think about any given situation, if it’s not your situation you never really know the back story and it’s easy to make assumptions.

The other thing that I’ve been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of and very conscious about is meaningful hugs and cuddles. I don’t know the average timing of a typical hug but I’ve noticed that each hug I’ve had, even those being so gentle following my surgery, hold me for just a few seconds longer than before and before they release me do an extra squeeze. It’s as if words don’t capture what people are feeling or want to say but a hug can. Isn’t that great? The thing is, I don’t know what to say either, I don’t have a rule book or a Cancer etiquette guide that is helping me along, I’m finding my way through just as we all are.

Physically as well as emotionally, there’s a lot to understand and test out. I’m feeling less bruised and battered but to look at me around the surgery site I’m grooving the khaki bruises and blue staining that is becoming more vivid and angry looking as my body externally reacts to the internal machinations of surgery etc.

A walk over to the supermarket this morning felt very possible when I was at home, but roaming around the aisles made me feel vulnerable that people were going to knock into me and a dizzy spell had me propelling outside at a rate of knots to get some fresh air. Thankfully Ben phoned at that point to locate me and he and Faye drove over to collect us, like some elderly relatives that had pushed their luck too far. Like I said, we’re all learning.

So home now and smelling something definitely Michelin star worthy in the kitchen that Steve has prepared for dinner. The only trouble is, it’ll be an hour later than planned as he put one oven on and put the meal in the other one. I guess we both have a lot on our minds currently 😉

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